Sunday, April 29, 2007

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

As an example of just how desperate the inexperienced Overriders have become: Shouting that 'No Override' will wipe out the police department, Fire department and all the Teachers is…well, about as absurd as allowing Amherst to have 40% more money than they need next year so they can stash it in their “reserves”, thus swelling them to over $5 million!

Overrider Rage in Downtown Amherst

As a passive aggressive sparky school supporter was driving thru the downtown around high-noon Saturday she rolled down the window and leaned out shouting while shaking her fist: “You should be ashamed of yourselves!”

A split second later she rear-ended the SUV in front of her. Stan Gawle, without missing a beat (after he stopped laughing) exclaimed, “God is on our side!”

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Another Dark and Stormy Night for Overriders

So last night at a joint meeting of the Select board and School Committee to appoint a replacement for Alisa Brewer (who resigned her school committee position for the more glorious job of Select person) the two Select board members—Awad and Greeney-- who broke ranks and didn’t support the Override at the Select board meeting last Monday chastised Regional School Committee Queen Elaine Brighty for spreading rumors about a top candidate (eventual winner Chrystel Romero).

Whei-Ling Greeney then went one BIG step further and asked for Brighty’s resignation from the committee she chairs.

What does this have to do with the Override you may ask? Well in any municipality in Massachusetts taxpayers know Override is synonymous with Schools (as in 'Save Our') and Ms. Brighty (one of the top contributors to ‘The Amherst Plan Committee’) has lead the charge for the Override since late Fall.

Ironically Ms. Brighty obviously had a problem with the winner Chrystel Romero and pulled (the wrong) stings in favor of runner-up Yaniris Fernandez…. who is now still available to replace Brighty.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Yet Another Override Blunder

According to the office of Campaign and Political Finance advocates cannot accept contributions or spend money until officially forming a Ballot Committee and filing that statement of organization with the Amherst Town Clerk.

The first direct mailer from ‘The Amherst Plan Committee’ carried a postmark of April 2 (with an expensive 39 cent first class stamp) yet their Ballot Committee Form filed with the Amherst Town Clerkthe carries time/date stamp of April 3’rd (a day late and many dollars short.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Override Blunders Continue

In addition to having a fan who arrogantly breaks the law by stealing opponents lawn signs, the we-need-to-pay-more-taxes coalition also violated state law last Monday by not filing with the Amherst Town Clerk their Campaign Finance Report, due eight days prior to the May 1’st Election (a “special” election costing taxpayers $12,000 simply to hold).

Although ‘Save Amherst Schools Ballot Committee’ did file on time (as did ‘Amherst Taxpayers For Responsible Change’), the main proponent of increased taxation ‘The Amherst Plan Committee’ failed to file their disclosure report. Interestingly Rick Hood is a leader on both committees.

And by “main” committee I mean they will sponsor a giant “Signature Ad” (effective only if you have 1,500 names) in tomorrow’s Amherst Bulletin costing well in excess of $1,000.

Campaign Finance Law is kind of like the Open Meeting Law, which shines a light on activity, not on what government does but what private individuals do who wish to influence government.

If I were a pro-Override person (and obviously I'm not) I would now be wondering what else have they botched?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Great Lawn Sign Caper: The Buzz Continues...

What my friend Mr. Morse--a public prosecutor in Springfield, obviously experienced with BONEHEAD criminals, as well as the scary ones--should have said is that he pulled a “Hood’ey” as in Rick Hood, leader of the pro-Override committee sending out an email last week to a public listserve rather than his War Room that outlined their entire strategy for the campaign, including how to “manage the media”.

Of course, upon rereading that dispatch it sounds like they did not order lawn signs. Perhaps one of their followers, realizing this, thought he was doing them a favor by stealing ours.

As I said: bonehead criminals!

From: richmorse@____________________
Subject: Leaving Your ID

I just pulled "a Hubley" and sent an E-mail to the override folks that was intended to be sent to you. I was up late last night and obviously my brain is fried.

Rich Morse

From: richmorse@____________________
Subject: Leaving Your ID

Richard B. Morse wrote:

You'd be surprised how many times some form of ID (wallet, cell phone) is left at crime scenes.

The stupid ones keep us so busy that it's hard to get to the smart ones.

Good luck, Rich Morse

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 7:44 AM
From: richmorse@____________________
Subject: Leaving Your ID

Excuse me, that E-mail was intended to be sent to my friend Larry Kelley. Like Stephanie, I try to ignore his demagoguery and talk about the other stuff, in this case, the theft of those signs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scene of the Great Lawn Sign Caper

Note no sidewalk and how busy the street was this afternoon. Obviously less busy after midnight but still, an exposed spot nevertheless (magazine between two metal poles and to right of shadow second line indicates former location of "No More Overrides" sign.

The Great Lawn Sign Caper update:

Turns out the owner of the cell phone has connections to Amherst College (do they allow students to smoke?) Some of the stored numbers match up with a once prominent left-leaning writer (Education and the Nuclear Freeze) who was on staff in the 1970’s, and a current AC high-ranking administrator.

Of course, the owner also had the White House and the main number to Congress in there, so I guess that makes him “politically active.”

The neighbor directly across the street from the one who discovered the cell phone and pack of cigarettes also pointed out to me early this morning that the sidewalk is on his side of Rt 116, not the side where the personal belongings were found. So if you were casually strolling down a main thoroughfare at 2:00 am wouldn’t you use the sidewalk?

If you like to walk on the wildside, perhaps not.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Possible break in sign theft case

When an irate homeowner crossed his front yard to retrieve the mangled remains of the metal stand that formerly held our “No More Overrides” sign, he discovered laying next to it a cell phone (last outgoing call made very late Saturday night) and a pack of cigarettes.

And we do know from the way signs were ripped from their stands all over Amherst that the culprit was in a big hurry. The homeowner turned the material over to Amherst Police and filed a complaint about the theft.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Censorship in the People's Republic

Under cover of darkness cowards trampled the First Amendment rights (not to mention trespassing and petty larceny laws) of many fellow citizens in this town that purportedly relishes free and open debate, by stealing signs shouting “No More Overrides” in bright yellow-and-black, mimicking angry bees protecting their nest.

Almost two-thirds of the 150 lawn signs that stretched from the furthest reaches of North Amherst to The Notch in South Amherst disappeared last night, less than 24 hours after issuance. And not just on busy main thruways--but even in the heart of bedroom neighborhoods--so it was not simply college students snatching spur of the moment souvenirs.

How would you feel if you, your spouse and four kids were sound asleep at 2:00 am and somebody was rummaging around on your front lawn? Violated!

Last month anonymous vandals defaced Robie Hubley signs the night before the election. Coincidently Mr. Hurbley was considered less supportive of the schools than the other two (winning) candidates.

So the Amherst Taxpayers For Responsible Change has issued a $500 reward for any information leading to discovery of the cowards who orchestrated this despicably act.

And since one of our committee members is a former FBI agent (counter terrorism no less), you can be sure we will stake out a number of locations from here on in.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"Methinks thou doth protest too much."

Or in the case of this Daily Hampshire Gazette editorial, not protesting enough!


A repeat offender (Daily Hampshire Gazette 4/20/07)

Max Karson has a long tradition of offending people. Even the tragedy at Virginia Tech is not outside his reach.

Karson began publishing offensive material while a student at Amherst Regional High School. In his crude publication "The Crux," he sought to spread his insults as far and wide as possible. He got suspended from school twice, only to be reinstated with the help of the Western Massachusetts ACLU.

Karson is now offending people as a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he has been distributing an outrageous newsletter called "The Yeti," which is also packed with vulgar language.

It turns out that his timing is as bad as his taste. He declared in a women's studies class this week that he could see why Cho Seung-Hui went on his violent rampage at Virginia Tech. He also said that, like Cho, he could become angry enough to kill a large number of people, even for the most mundane reasons. After students and faculty complained and expressed fears, Karson was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of "interference with staff, faculty, and students of an educational institution."

Karson thinks he's doing us all a favor by pushing the limits of free speech, but free speech is not without responsibilities. Karson has a right to his opinions, but his fellow students have a right to react to what they find hostile and offensive and to protect themselves in the face of threatening remarks.


Arguably the most stunning speech in American history occurred to consecrate ground where tens of thousands of men over a three day period had giving “their last measure of devotion” so that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

War is far from pretty, neither is the First Amendment.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette--Max Karson’s hometown newspaper for the vast majority of his young life--hardly reenacted the cavalry riding to his rescue with the above editorial.

Sure, timing had everything to do with the rash reaction to his remarks. Spoken a day before the massacre Max’s comments would hardly have raised an eyebrow. Just as Professor Jennie Traschen’s trashing of the American flag at a public meeting in bucolic Amherst twelve hours before Flight 11 impaled the North Tower generated little response (there was even some applause). Then next morning, EVERYTHING changed.

I vehemently opposed the 2004 staging of ‘Vagina Monologues’ at the Amherst Regional High School because I believe the C-word (and N-word for that matter) should not be used in public. And I vehemently opposed the cancellation of ‘West Side Story’ in 1999 because I did not see it as even remotely racist.

Adults should be allowed to peruse porn--but not young teenagers. And even with adults I draw the line with kiddy-porn. So yeah, the First Amendment has its limits in protecting speech.

But Max did not cross that line! If he said that a few years back in Amherst--even a day or two after Columbine--everybody would have simply figured that’s our Max.

He was in a classroom (Women’s Studies no less). Did he have a gun on him when he made those supposedly threatening statements? And having tried to teach Max karate, I can assure you his slightly built frame is far from a deadly weapon.

Sure “free speech is not without responsibilities” just as government interference with free speech is not without grave consequences.

Now here's a sane editorial (from Colorado no less):

Opinion Colorado Daily News

Freedom isn't free. Or pretty

Thursday, April 19, 2007

We've got some bad news for you CU: you can't have your cake and eat it too. Following the arrest of CU student Max Karson on Wednesday after a heated classroom discussion with other students about the dreadful killings at Virginia Tech, it seems like university administration and students are trying to stuff their fat faces with high-minded social libertarianism and stay on a strict diet of political correctness all at the same time.

Sorry folks, but you can't defend Ward Churchill's right to call dead New Yorkers “Little Eichmanns” out of one side of your mouth and condemn Max Karson for saying he can identify with a mass murderer out the other.

Let's get the obvious part out of the way first. Karson, the CU student who has caused uproar after uproar with his sophomoric ‘zine, “The Yeti,” picked a bad time to launch another free-speech battle. In a classroom debate Tuesday, the always-provocative Karson allegedly said he could understand how someone could be angry enough to kill 32 people, according to CU police reports. He also allegedly said, again, according to police reports, that the lighting and interiors of CU buildings were making him feel “mad enough to do something.”

It's not a popular opinion these days to be sure, but was it worth arresting the guy over? Dumb? Yes. Threatening? We're not convinced.

First of all, debate about a subject never killed anyone. If a discussion about the massacre in Blacksburg, Va. was initiated in Karson's class, either by a student or teacher, surely no one expected everyone to have the same opinion about the matter. After Columbine, debate raged for years about whether 13 crosses - one each for the victims - or 15 - one for each victim and two for the killers who also died - should be erected to memorialized the fallen. A lot of people felt sympathy for the Columbine killers. Many more felt hatred toward the two young men that caused a community such misery. The point is, everyone had a right to their opinion on April 20, 1999 and they still do today.

In this country, we don't lock up people with ugly or stupid ideas. You are free to ignore them all you want, though. Once again, Max Karson, a man with views that so many people at CU disagree with, has been made a martyr for free speech, and that's bad for the rest of us.

And let's talk about people feeling threatened at CU for a minute. In Nov. 2004, CU-Boulder instructor Michael Kanner got angry when a student in his class made comments against the celebration of Veterans Day. The student told Kanner, a veteran, there is never any reason to use violence.

Kanner's response was, by his own admission, a bad one. He threw the woman's bag, then pulled a one-inch knife from his shirt pocket and, according to a witness, held it to her throat.

Kanner, to his credit, fell all over himself apologizing for the incident. He said his thumb, not the blade, was against the skin. No matter. He scared the woman and a number of other people in the class.

But he wasn't arrested. And he wasn't banned from campus. He's still there today, teaching like nothing ever happened.

Now that's what we call tolerance.

The CU administration also has never said Ward Churchill should be thrown off campus for what he said in his essay, “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.” Supposedly, it's academic dishonesty that's got him in hot water with the university. So if the university is going to, in effect, defend Churchill's right to smear the fallen from Sept. 11, they ought to stand up and do the same for Max Karson, as painful as it may be.

But don't just take our word for it. Here's what CU-Boulder Chancellor G.P. ‘Bud' Peterson had to say Monday in a special editorial he asked us to run titled “Words need not create storms.”

“· on a university campus, you can enjoy the privilege of sitting across from the person you are engaging in debate or discussion. You can see the expressions and gestures of their person, hear all the nuances and inflections in their voice, and more fully comprehend how they process what you say and how it affects them.

“This proximity means that in face-to-face discussions, the stakes of debate are higher. You might have to go to class, or share a room or residence hall lounge with the person with whom you are debating, so the necessity for observing those nuances, along with the basic protocol of respect, is high.

“This openness and accountability represents the best of our universities and they are an integral part of our university community ·”

Well said, Chancellor. So the next time two people have a disagreement in a classroom, is the university still going to throw one of them off campus?

Looks like Michael Kanner put his knife away just in time. People get thrown in jail around here for a lot less these days.

And Max, grow up buddy. Fast.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Now If I were Max Karson

And the roles were reversed. If Larry Kelley were arrested for scaring folks with comments made during his "Women's Studies" course at, say, Mt. Holyoke would Max respond:

"I would much rather blow my brains out than to sit thru a "Women's Studies" course at uppity Mt. Holyoke College." Or something satirical like that.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Free Max Karson!

Local man arrested after riling Colorado class

AMHERST - A 22-year-old Amherst man with a controversial past was arrested Tuesday in Colorado after he made comments sympathetic to the gunman behind Monday's deadly shooting at Virginia Tech.

Max Karson, a 2003 graduate of Amherst Regional High School and a junior at the University of Colorado in Boulder, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of 'interference with staff, faculty, and students of an educational institution,' after saying during a women's studies class discussion that he could see why Cho Seung-Hui killed 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech.
When we radically change the way we live in response to a terrorist incident then the terrorist have won. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. The way to counter bad speech is with good speech.

I first met Max Karson thirteen years ago when he did Karate with me. When I was fighting the Amherst Regional High School allowing teenaged girls to perform ‘Vagina Monologues’ I cited the hypocrisy of the school canceling a production of ‘West Side Story’ and shutting down Max from distributing his newsletter, The Crux.

So Max gets in trouble for writing about masturbation, but it’s okay for an even younger girl to simulate it on stage?

Max then joined in the Internet exchanges on the Masslive Amherst Forum:

916. Hey Max
by LarryK, 1/31/04 10:37 ET
Re: Question For Larry by CruxEditor, 1/31/04
Found this in Amherst College paper:
Amherst Regional High School is at the center of a debate on free speech after the third attempt to suspend a student who published a newsletter that school officials deemed obscene. Senior Max Karson was suspended for three days after he published the latest issue of The Crux. Both previous suspensions were rescinded, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. School officials believe that The Crux violates the school handbook’s definition of obscenity in that it “describes nudity or sexual conduct in a way that most members of the community think clearly offensive.” Karson and his father Michael Karson both said that although the latest issue of The Crux discussed and graphically described masturbation, it was not intended to sexually arouse readers and therefore cannot be labeled as obscene. The school maintains that the issue is about behavioral expectations. In October, the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee adopted a policy that encourages—but does not require—students to provide their principals with copies of published material and prohibits derogatory or offensive language referring to ethnicity, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation

933. Criminy...
by CruxEditor, 2/3/04 1:30 ET
Hey Larry! And anyone who wants to jump in!
Okay, yes, I completely agree with you... Mr. Wehrli and Ms. Hannigan are completely inconsistent about what they allow and don't allow. And yes, part of why they are supporting this is that they know they will look a lot worse stopping a bunch of girls' speech than they did when they stopped mine. Or tried to. Anyways, I think it's really annoying that they clearly have absolutely no position on any issue. I also think a lot of it has to do with the new super.
Yes, we are talking about the C-word, I know, but I see this as a sort of exaggerated feminine mystique. I think The Birdcage helped fight homophobia a lot more than any documentary would, because it was so funny and endearing, and simply because it had gay people on the silver screen. I think that the Vagina Monologues are similarily funny and endearing. Clearly Larry does not agree on that point.
I don't think there's any way to construe the Vagina Monologues as being anti-woman, or having an anti-woman effect. It may be vulgar by many peoples' standards, and it may offend everyone, but I don't see how it could be anything but anti-sexism, anti-violence, and pro... you know what I'm saying. I think even a one in a million chance of promoting the equality of the sexes is worth making an entire town red in the face.

933.3. Agree Max, partially
by LarryK, 2/3/04 9:48 ET
Re: Criminy... by CruxEditor, 2/3/04
Obviously school officials are being hypocritically inconsistent. Yes, they came down on you like a ton of latte because you were a 17-year-old white male.
But I take issue with ‘VM" being "funny and endearing". Obviously not anti-woman but most certainly anti-male. And is it fair for a schools system made up equally off both sexes to cater to only one side at the expense of the other?
A woman had a letter in Sunday’s Republican where she decried the "Sexualization of women in our culture, and the physical and sexual exploitation of women by men."
So I sent her the following email on Sunday:
"I find it kind of amusing (in an ironic rather than Ha Ha sort of way) you write in today's Republican: "...the physical and sexual exploitation of women by men."
If you have been paying attention, my #1 concern (the C-word believe it or not is only #2) is the "Little Coochie Snorcher that could" monologue where a 24 year old woman sexually exploits a--depending on which edition of the book you read--a 13 year old girl or after the outcry a few years back changed suddenly to 16 years old. But most folks would argue that if a 24-year-old has sex (after plying them with alcohol) with a 16-year-old that amounts to sexual exploitation of a girl by a women."
And she responded yesterday:
"I happen to agree with you. The vignette you mentioned where a 24 year old gives alcohol to, and then seduces, a 16 year old is the one vignette I take strong issue with. I don't understand why it's in the collection of monologues--in my mind, it negates the message about "owning one's body" the other monologues address."

933.3.1. Anti-male
by CruxEditor, 2/3/04 15:10 ET
Re: Criminy... by CruxEditor, 2/3/04
Hey. I first read the vagina monologues when I was in eighth grade, and I really liked it. I don't remember feeling threatened by it as a male. Do you guys know what parts would be anti-male? Or is it just the fact that they would never allow the Penis Monologues to be performed?
Also, what may be statuatory rape in a lot of states isn't in Massachusetts. I don't know if that matters to you, but 24-year-olds and 16-year-olds can totally have sex here without breaking the law.

933.3.1.1. Funny you mention
by LarryK, 2/3/04 17:43 ET
Re: Criminy... by CruxEditor, 2/3/04
that you were in 8'th grade. So that was 5 years ago. So that means the edition of 'VM" you read was the Off Broadway Award Winner where the Little Coochi Snorcher is only 13 when seduced by a 24 year old. And of course it is in response to a rape that happened when she was 10 (Dad avenged it by shooting the male perp). So the thrust of the monologue is men are bad--you're better off with women as sex partners even is you are only 13 and she is 24. And that is a crime in any state in the nation

933.3.2. How 'bout
by LloydLoar, 2/3/04 21:33 ET
Re: Criminy... by CruxEditor, 2/3/04
Kelley/Karson '04?
you only need one more K.

933.3.2.1. Let's see one more K....
by AmhRes, 2/3/04 23:49 ET
Re: Criminy... by CruxEditor, 2/3/04
would equal KKK. Sounds about right

933.3.2.2. When you lack cogent
by LarryK, 2/4/04 9:18 ET
Re: Criminy... by CruxEditor, 2/4/04
arguments you resort to namecalling.I believe that in debate circles it is called Argument Ad Homonym.
LL you surprise me. And to think I thought you were a master debater.

960. Hey AmhRes
by CruxEditor, 2/7/04 14:59 ET
Will you please tell me what you meant when you implied that I'm in the KKK? And will you please tell me why you said it?
You say that you should practice what you preach, but isn't that sort of a bullying tactic to use? Also, I was totally staying out of the meanness in the discussion, so why me?

960. mbex,
by LloydLoar, 2/7/04 23:55 ET
Re: Hey AmhRes by CruxEditor, 2/7/04
I have no "explanation" for my thoughtless joke about Max and Larry.
So I apologized.
In case you missed it, I'll apologize again.
But Crux would do his own mental health a favor to work on his histrionically reactive "unadulterated hate" language.
(at age 18, what does he know about adultery?)

960. 's cool, Lloyd
by CruxEditor, 2/8/04 1:56 ET
Re: Hey AmhRes by CruxEditor, 2/8/04
Thanks for saying that. I don't know, I think you just hit a sore spot for me, you know? Last year, 50 teachers signed a letter saying I was racist and sexist and everything else and they ran it in the school paper. But you obviously didn't mean to, so I completely forgive you.
I can only hope that AmhRes and Larry and I will come to a similarly peaceful resolution.
"Life is very short, and there's no ti-i-i-i-ime... for fussing and fighting my friend!"
Also, Lloyd... we live in a world where educators let 14-year-olds use the C-word. How could an 18-year-old NOT know about adultery??

959. O'reilly Factor
by CruxEditor, 2/7/04 16:20 ET
Rip it up, Larry. Rip it up. You know I'm for the production and everything, but if you see a way to destroy Amherst, go for it, by all means. The town is very sick, and the honorable thing to do would be to put it out of its misery.
AmhRes, you should go talk to Larry at his office. Even if you don't have anything to say, you should go meet him, anyway. He's a nice guy, regardless of whether you agree with his politics.
Of course, now that I think of it, ninety-percent of my personal interactions with Larry Kelley involved him beating me up, but I guess I was asking for it. I mean, I even paid him.
Just don't look him in the eye, and you'll be ok.

955. Larry
by CruxEditor, 2/6/04 16:53 ET
Is it okay if I mention you in a letter I may be writing to the editor of the Gazette?
I won't call you any names or say that you're in the KKK with me or anything.

955.1. Sure, go ahead
by LarryK, 2/6/04 17:09 ET
Re: Larry by CruxEditor, 2/6/04
Unlike AmhRes I don't mind standing up under my God given (well, Irish Catholic Mother given) name.

950. LloydLoar
by CruxEditor, 2/6/04 3:41 ET
To keep up with your posting format, I'll bash you for a few paragraphs, and then I'll accept your apology.
How old am I? 18. Who raised me? My parents. My dad got trespassed from school property for calling the principal a f***ing Nazi. We have a lot in common, I guess, except I don't accuse people of being members of racist organizations. My mom kicked me out when I was sixteen years old. So, yes and no. My father approves of my reactive need to express my unadulterated hatred. My mother does not.
Please stop correcting the grammatical mistakes in my writing. It really bothers me. I would do it back, but as much as I despise you, I can't bring myself to do it.
On the topic of my belief that all miscommunications are the fault of my readers: When I write something, and my dad doesn't understand it, I think it's because I didn't word it clearly enough. When I write something, and my brother doesn't understand it, I think it's because I wasn't really saying anything in the first place. When I write something, and my girlfriend doesn't understand it, I think I should rip it up and start over.When I write something and YOU don't understand it, I think it's because you either won't, or can't, read.
You characterize my response to your comment as a reactionary and short-fused expression of my ability to alienate people. You described your comment as "(perhaps) tasteless." And you say that I react without knowing very much about the target of my hatred. But I know a lot about you, now. I know that when you apologize to someone, you have to debase them by asking how old they are and who raised them, probably so that apologizing doesn't seem like such a huge concession. And as you build up to your apology, you mercilessly criticize the person's hotheaded reaction to your assault on them. And then, right as you're about to finally say sorry, you tell me that my strongest, and only, attribute may end up being the ability to alienate.
However, the most fascinating part of your post was when you said "I kinda thought this Forum might be about civil discourse." Is calling other people KKK members civil discourse? And where did that come from, anyways? How is it possible for you to say that about me (for no reason, I think), and then when I get pissed off, accuse me of not participating in civil discourse?
Hey, I was just talking about my feelings, I wasn't trying to be uncivil. And your comment WAS thoughtless, thank you for admitting that. My comments are not. You're slinging mud. This isn't mud. This is bullets. I still hate you.
I accept your apology.

950.1. Crux, maybe
by LloydLoar, 2/6/04 9:55 ET
Re: LloydLoar by CruxEditor, 2/6/04
you oughta have more respect for you mother's sensibilities.

950.1.1. Sensibilities
by CruxEditor, 2/6/04 16:47 ET
Re: LloydLoar by CruxEditor, 2/6/04
I can't really control what makes me angry, so I can't help you there. But I can control whether or not I say horrible things about people, and so can you. Maybe you should have more respect for my mother's, and everyone else's, sensibilities.

950.1.1.1. I'm glad I got you talking about
by LloydLoar, 2/6/04 23:00 ET
Re: LloydLoar by CruxEditor, 2/6/04
respect for mothers.
Yr right. MY mother wouldn't approve of my KKK jibe. So, I'll try to be more respectful.
But hopefully, my sense of humor won't just reactivate your "unadulterated hatred" of me (whoever you think I am).
Y'know, hatred eats at the hater as much if not more than at the hated.
Maybe your "hatred" of me bounces off, while it just smolders inside you.
You might consider meditation or exercise. Maybe someone to talk to who won't give you such a hard time.

945.1. Obscenity
by CruxEditor, 2/5/04 18:12 ET
I've spent a long time researching and arguing the definitition of obscenity, so I can give you a very short, very accurate briefing on the word.
In that context, they are talking about the legal definition of obscenity. The material has to fulfill all three of the following requirements:
1. The material, taken as a whole, does not have any redeeming social, political, artistic, scientific, or other value.
(I think that we can all agree that taken as a whole, the VM's DO have political and artistic value.)
2. It has to be patently offensive to the community it is received by.
(This may be true in this case, but I don't think it is. Most kids aren't offended by it.)
3. It has to appeal to the prurient interest.
(There's no way that the VM's are supposed to turn people on. It is not a pornographic show, regardless of the language used in it.)
So, while the show may fit the commonly used definition of the word obscene, it doesn't even come close to fulfilling those three requirements. Even if the show WAS pornographic, and if it WAS offensive to everyone, it wouldn't matter, as long as there is one sentence in the whole thing that has social or political value. And, basically, in Massachusetts, unlike any other state, there is a law the specifically protects vulgar speech. So the obscenity angle is no good on this one.

944. 'VM' another casualty
by LarryK, 2/5/04 12:44 ET
Amherst Bulletin
Nick Grabbe, Commentary Editor
Dear Nick,
It is with deepest regret that after 14 years, I must now tender my resignation as an Amherst Bulletin columnist.
I have always worked hard to disburse my opinion to a broad audience with clarity and precision. While I freely admit my oftentimes-combative rhetoric, I take pride in always trying to maintain a high standard of journalistic integrity.
Our agreement was simple: I could write about anything as long as it was a local, Amherst issue. Considering how often I challenged the municipally owned Cherry Hill Golf Course or town officials’ mistreatment of the American flag (starting the eve of 9/11), obviously I was never limited to covering an issue only once.
The direct order from your boss Jim Foudy to ban me from writing another column blasting High school officials obsession with ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is clearly a breech of our deal. I also feel it infringes on my First Amendment rights. Perhaps I am now "the center of the storm," but isn’t that the very position most columnists would forbear coffee over?
Furthermore for Mr. Foudy to pen a Gazette editorial that very afternoon (1/27) supporting "VM" and alluding to me as a bookbanner with little public support, while ignoring a School Committee meeting that very night (where play opponents outnumbered supporters by a more than two to one margin) was a tad too Machiavellian for me.
Again, I regret abandoning something I truly love…unfortunately a higher principle takes precedence.
Larry Kelley (5’th Generation resident, Amherst)
CC: All the usual suspects

944.3. Larry
by CruxEditor, 2/5/04 18:05 ET
Re: 'VM? another casualty by LarryK, 2/5/04
I'm sorry.
I have an incredible amount of admiration for the kids who are putting on the Vagina Monologues, and I have an incredible amount of admiration for you. If everyone stood up for what they believed in, the world would be a wonderful place.
But it isn't. I'm sorry they're not letting you stand up. I know you'll find another way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Echoes of 9/11

Nothing demonstrates the mood of a somber nation like the American flag at half-staff.

Power to the people (in the Peoples Republic)

In a fitting display of turn about fair play a Special Amherst town meeting will discuss the fate of the Cherry Hill Golf Course, just as it did on the night of April, 29, 1987.

Yes, it has been twenty years since Amherst took by eminent domain the bucolic former cow pasture turned golf course. The Special Town Meeting that long ago night (mainly called by immediate neighbors) invoked an “emergency preamble” to the warrant article thus making it Referendum proof.

In the twenty years of town operation the course has lost money in thirteen of them now totaling over $900,000 (not including the original $2.2 million purchase price). And in only ONE year (FY90) did Cherry Hill show profits equal to what Niblick Management is now guaranteeing us for the next three consecutive years ($30,000/year).

The warrant article (sponsored by Amherst Taxpayers For Responsible Change) for the special town meeting reads:

To see if the town will strongly urge the Select board to strongly urge the town manager to accept the recent bid of Niblick Management for privatization of the Cherry Hill Golf Course with a new condition allowing for a three year contract; and if Niblick is no longer interested, to reissue the new RFP (with the three year provision) before September 1, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Republican (newspaper that is) Rocks!

Naturally Amherst town officials gave the reporter a bad figure. Yes, Cherry Hill was scheduled to lose $35,649 of taxation in FY06 and that was the budget Town Meeting approved…. however:

Cherry Hill overspent its budget by $13,419 and missed target revenues by $10,745 more than $24,000 over original projections conjured up by Pollyannaish town officials, thus costing taxpayers $59,649 in FY06—not $35,000.

On April 3, 2006 I publicly challenged “acting Town Manager” John Musante to a $10,000 bet--with all proceeds to charity--that Cherry Hill would not intake $207,000 in FY06. He refused. Cherry Hill only generated $196,667.

I will make the same bet now with current Town Manager Larry Shaffer that Cherry Hill will NOT intake $220,000 this year. As of April 1’st (no foolin) Cherry Hill was $8,000 behind last year's revenues to date, and so far the weather has been a lot worse this April than last.

Can you imagine how much revenue is lost when it snows on a Sunday (especially on this prime holiday weekend)?

How about it Mr. Shaffer: try walking the walk.

Friday, April 13, 2007

When the people lead, the politicians follow

Let’s hope the Peoples Revolt in Amherst fares better than the one in South Hadley.

The ‘Amherst Taxpayers For Responsible Change’, with the key word being RESPONSIBLE, just launched a petition drive to collect 200 signatures to call a Special Town Meeting to “strongly urge” the Select board to “strongly urge” the Town Manager to take the offer of Niblick Management to privatize our floundering golf business.

Town Meeting passed an advisory warrant article last June saying they “strongly urge” the Select board to put Cherry Hill out to bid. In August Mr. Shaffer said he had no problem with issuing the RFP so that the private sector could “save our bacon.”

But Mr. Shaffer must have turned vegetarian as he rejected Niblick Management’s offer of $35,000 a year for three years, preferring instead to risk the loss of many more times that of taxpayer dollars on keeping the White Elephant within the Leisure Services empire.

As I have said so very often: Only in Amherst!

Sad vote in South Hadley

The resignation of just elected Selectman Daniel Champagne over the continued funding of their municipal golf course—a much larger White Elephant than Cherry Hill-- demonstrated just how tough it is for somebody with a core to survive petty town politics.

God knows how often I tried to get our Select board to place on the ballot a non-binding question about continuing to operate our municipal tax drain, but town officials prefer to stick their head in the sand.

They will, of course, find out soon enough when the May 1’st Override sinks in a sandtrap.

A couple weeks back the Town Manger, when asked how he would react to an Override defeat arrogantly replied he would “give it a haircut” and bring it back.

So Mr. Shaffer, how do you give something that gets scalped a haircut?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Town Manager, finally, caves!

Like the recent apology of radio jock Don Imus, the Town Manager taking Police (2) and Fire personnel (5) off the Override chopping block (proposing to fund them with or without a May 1’st approval) is one of those better late than never sort of things.

I’m sure a new Select board member, who champions the Override, realized that heavy handed political scare tactics could backfire (as, in fact, they already have).

Now if only Mr. Shaffer would come to his senses on the nixed Cherry Hill Golf Course deal...

Three strikes and you're out!

Does anyone else get the impression the rookie Town Manager is going overboard to keep our famished White Elephant under town control?

Town Meeting “strongly urges” the Select Board to put out an RFP for Cherry Hill by “no later than August, 2006.” The town manager finally gets around to it on March 1’st, 2007; and according to state bidding law the offer requires a minimum of two weeks public notice.

In 2004 when the previous town manager put Cherry Hill out to bid he did so with two months notice.

One little ad in the legal section of the Daily Hampshire Gazette (exactly two weeks from response deadline) and placement on the town web page is hardly maximum exposure.

Plus the first RFP was written requiring a bidder to show up at the Clubhouse for a conference a week before bid deadline, otherwise you couldn’t bid. Thus the two-week notice was really only one-week notice.

So I called him on it (strike one) and Mr. Shaffer reissues a second RFP. Niblick Management responds with a $5,000 offer plus an additional $25,000 to $30,000 annual Payment In Lieu of Taxes.

The town manger instantly rejects it because, although he approved the RFP documents, somehow he forgot that the property tax payment was included and reported to the Select board only the $5,000.

Then when I call him on that (strike two) he “reconsiders” the deal; but then rejects it because Niblick, not surprisingly, wants a three-year deal.

Strike three!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Take the deal or take a hike

The Amherst town manager wants residents to dig down deep to absorb a $2.5 million tax Override because it’s a “three year plan” as opposed to all the previous Overrides that were only "one year solutions", yet he summarily rejects a private offer to remove a debilitating Vampire that has been sucking the town treasury dry for its entire municipal existence because the golf contract called for a “three year plan”.

In fiscal years 2004,2005, and 2006 Cherry Hill Golf Course squandered $282,8755 in taxes on operational losses. If, however, the Niblick Management three-year contract been in effect back then Amherst would have reaped over $100,000 in profit. A six-digit gain replacing six-digit losses is a tremendous turnaround.

Town Meeting voted last June to “strongly urge” the Select board to put the floundering golf business out to bid. Why did the town manger hastily reject this offer without consulting Town Meeting or even our diffident Finance Committee?

In 2005 the Select board and Town Meeting approved a lease with Verizon for a cell tower at the Ruxton Gravel pit for $20,000 in annual rent. The term of the lease was twenty years.

In 2003 the Select board and long-time town manger Barry Del Castilho entered into his final contract before retirement...a three-year deal. In 2003 when Mark Harpo Power was bequeathed the no-bid, concession contract at Cherry Hill (for well below market rate), it too, was a three-year deal.

Why would a businessperson expend “blood, sweat, toil and tears” not too mention capital on a dying business when only one year later the town can tell him to take a hike?

According the to 2004 Annual Town Report: “The Finance Committee concluded that the Town should no longer operate the Cherry Hill Golf Course. Instead, request for proposals for outside management should be put out by the Fall of 2004. If this is not done the course should be closed.”

It’s time to renew that ultimatum and take this deal or close it down. And if this is any indication of the town manager’s day-to-day managerial acumen, perhaps the Select board should rethink his contract.

Monday, April 9, 2007

His Lordship responds (sort of)

Rookie Select board Chair, Gerry Weiss responded to my Cherry Hill challenge to the (still-hiding-under-his-desk) Town Manager.

Sent: Sat, 7 Apr 2007 7:41 AM
Subject: And if you had taken my bet last year you would have lost

Larry read it correctly. The bidder meant to bid $5000.

Sent: Sat, 7 Apr 2007 8:41 AM

PLUS taxes, plus liquor license. I read the contract and gee, I've only been in business for 25 years. Maybe you should read the contract. And if he was that naive and doesn't know how to read a contract then why did he tell the Gazette (twice now) that he fully expected to pay $30,000 in additional taxes?

And he also bid $5,000 fully expecting to pay somebody else $15,000 in fertilizer, and somebody else $7,000 in electricity and $10,000 in advertising, and so on and so on. Quite frankly I think he's out of his mind (even if it were only $5,000)

Friday, April 6, 2007

Golf Optimism? Wanna Bet!

Town manager Larry Shaffer must have shared Kool Aid from the same glass as long-time former town manger Barry Del Castilho as he has picked up that Pollyannaish plague where you constantly sing, “The sun will come out tomorrow”

On Wednesday night in an unscheduled Select board report on the Cherry Hill bid fiasco Mr. Shaffer, a.k.a. Nostradamus, issued a startling prediction.

Even though admitting current revenues are an abysmal $92,000 (last year as of April 1’st they were at $99,208) he predicts $130,000 over April, May and June for a total intake of $221,000 to $222,000.

First off, $130,000 over 3 months would be, after 20 years of operation, a new record. Last year, a very typical year, they generated $97,454 over those three months and had opened prior to April 1’st.

Thus, they were $7,000 over current revenues and finished the year at $196,667 or $10,000 under the $206,903 target. So this year, with their most experienced Manger and only full-time employee put out to pasture, they are suddenly going to perform 30% better? (Unless of course, they think he was embezzling $30,000 per year).

Interestingly according to last year’s Finance Committee report to Town Meeting Cherry Hill needs to intake, after factoring in hidden costs now shifted to other parts of the municipal budget, $220,000 to break even.

So let’s make a deal Mr. Shaffer: for every dollar OVER $220,000 (the break even point) the golf business generates I will match it as long as you, conversely, cover anything UNDER $220,000. That way taxpayers are guaranteed to break even.

It’s pretty easy—especially in Amherst--to talk the talk.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Back to back hole-in-one’s!

Anne Awad is no longer Select board Czar and the rashly rejected Cherry Hill Golf Course bid will get a second look.

Her highness was bumped from her exalted leadership position by everybody’s favorite therapist Gerry Weiss. So how does that make him feel? “I hope I deserve this chairship,” declared Gerry. Yeah, me too (I can use the target practice).

Since Mr. Weiss championed the $2.5 million Override and ran roughshod over Ms. Awad and hubby Mr. Hubley’s suggestion of a $1.5 million fallback amount, he certainly earned "this chairship." As that other Chair (Mao) might say, “Be careful what you wish for…”

So now our rookie town manager admits he didn’t carefully read his own contract and therefore didn’t realize the $5,000 bid for our starving White Elephant also included tax payments of an additional $25,000. Yikes!

Makes you wonder what other contracts he fails to carefully peruse. Like, for instance, the SAFER Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) Federal grant that brought us five desperately needed firefighters 2.5 years ago.

According to that document “Grantees that do not fulfill their obligations under these grants will be considered in default and required to return the Federal funds disbursed under the grant award.” In this case the town entered into a legally binding five-year contract.

Since the town has already consumed $350,000 of the $500,000 SAFER grant on the five firefighters and would have to repay that amount, it seems a tad foolish to now threaten cutting these hard-won positions to save $80,000 (the town’s matching amount, of which half will be paid by ambulance revenues) in the next Fiscal Year.

But if you want to terrorize folks into supporting the $2.5 million Override, target both sides of the factions: scare the retired folks with no kids in the schools by threatening to cut five firefighters and two police officers, frighten parents with teacher cuts, and throw in the outdoor War Memorial pool cut to alarm the low-income residents who rely on it all summer for their kids recreation.

Nice package.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Cherry Hill: The Plundering Continues...

According to the Cherry Hill bid documents Niblick Golf Management responded to and was summarily rejected, IN ADDITION to the $5,000 cash on the barrel offer for a one-year lease (either party can terminate after one year) the “contractor will be responsible for the payment of real estate and personal property taxes as assessed by the Town Assessor’s office.”

Last year Cherry Hill, IF it had been on the taxrolls, WOULD have paid $16,000 in real estate taxes and $6,000 in personal property taxes; thus this deal would generate an additional $24,000 in new revenues to the town.

The contract also calls for payment of the beer/wine permit, an additional $700. So that $5,000 offer is really just a downpayment towards a total of $30,000 in new annual revenue. Last year--despite optimistic predictions from town officials all year long--the golf business still lost $59,000. So had this contract been in effect then, it would have been an almost $90,000 turnaround. How many teachers, police, or firefighters is that?

In his Bid introductory statement Niblick CEO Timothy Gordon states: “We believe that our company can work with the community to relieve the town of the financial burden of operating the course, while expanding the recreational opportunities it affords residents.”

Sounds like a hole-in-one to me!

He sagaciously continues: “”The financial information made available to us shows that despite cuts in expenses, the course has yet to achieve a true profit. Your struggles with profitability have given you a window into the nature of this capital and labor intensive business.”

Three years ago, on the morning of the deadline for the last Cherry Hill RFP attempt, Town Manager Barry Del Castilho emailed the entire Select board and stated that $30,000 was the figure he had in mind as a minimum bid. But no one responded…until now:

If town officials do not resurrect this deal (of a lifetime) somebody should walk the plank!

Monday, April 2, 2007

No Golf For You!

Rather than jettison the floundering, costly albatross otherwise known as the Cherry Hill Golf Course for a guaranteed $5,000 the town will turn down that recent bid from Niblick Golf Management and continue on the steady course to another losing year costing taxpayers an easy $50,000 by Fiscal Year end (June 30”th).

Let’s see, a positive $5,000 where there had once been a minus $50,000 amounts to a $55,000 turnaround. But I guess that math is too complicated for town officials.
And we still don’t know what Danny Boy did to get himself fired (I mean forced to resign) as Golf course superintendent. Losing your ONLY full-time employee in mid season is kind of like firing the Captain of the Titanic moments after hitting the iceberg.