Monday, March 31, 2008

Colorful Campaigning in Amherst Center

UPDATE: 9:25 pm Okay I just found another funny incident (even at this late hour). Having just discovered Baer 'The Turk' Tierkel’s blog via GavinThink and lo and behold there I am on Sunday when yes I did one of my favorite activities: the lone charge of an enemy machine gun nest.

So yeah, I have no problem with the nickname 'The Lone Ranger' although I believe all three Amherst Center columnists already used it to disparage Hwei-Ling Greeney.

But you gotta wonder about The Turk describing the standout of a half-dozen O’Keeffe Peepers (although Greeney gets two or three time that) holding signs as “impromptu”.

And so much for the Professor’s complaint/comment today about my giving people nicknames. I actually stole “The Turk” designation from one of Stephanie’s (other) biggest supporters.

UPDATE: 7:25 pm. Okay so I’m trying to think of the funniest incident of the day and boy it’s hard so I’ll just list all three (besides the animatronics Marinette for Romero video I posted)

Greg Saulmon at the Local Buzz has some fun with the overly educated Amherst ACE folks this afternoon (I can only hope he discovered them thru my posted link on Friday)
Local Buzz Bomb

So after leaving town center where I held a sign for Hwei-Ling for an hour so my phone rings and caller ID shows Otto Stein. “Hi this is Diana Stein and I’m running for Select board…do you have a moment” At first I thought it was a recorded message but I said “sure” and she went into a 30 second elevator pitch closing with “So can I have one of your two votes tomorrow?” Of course by now I’m laughing and I reply “Diana do you know who this is?” Ahhh, no she says. “I stood by you in town center two hours ago holding a red sign”. She actually kind of got a kick out it (as did I) saying “Well I guess I can’t count on either of your votes.”

And a not so funny incident where a pimple faced teenager came up to Hwei-Ling in a most direct manner and complained about her placing one of her signs on “town property” without anyone actually holding it (although we were only 20 yards away).

I said to Hwei-Ling not to worry about it as the kid was too young to vote anyway and obviously with his attitude has parents had already brainwashed him.

click to enlarge

Friday, March 28, 2008

Have you no sense of decency, sir?

UPDATE: Saturday 10:15 am discussion from Town Meeting listserve:
Did Mr. Foudy see the piece before it when to press? Do you
Or was this done by the Bulletin Editor locally?
Any suggestions as to safeguard the process for the future?
I'm not convinced yet, and strongly suggest more dialogue.
There had been too many inconsistencies for a few years now.
What were they thinking? AT least we could claim some
gains that the pieces are going to be publish on Saturday, but why are we having this discussion?
Vladimir M.

In a message dated 3/29/08 9:27:12 AM, writes:

I believe the decision to endorse Stein/O'Keeffe was a joint one between Foudy, Hoffenberg and Julien. But obviously Publisher Julien has the most weight. The decision to run the Amherst Center column was probably just Hoffenberg (after all, it was their normal rotation time) and I assume he also edited it. The Bulletin may want to rethink endorsements in general or at the very least not do them in the final Bulletin before the election. Today's Gazette undoes a lot of the damage (except to the credibility of the Bulletin).

UPDATE: 3:25 pm Apparently the Gazette has some journalistic pride as they covered the press conference called this morning by everyone's favorite rogue Select Board candidate Dave Keenan to decry today's Bulletin (article will appear tomorrow) and Editor in Chief Jim Foudy just called Stan Gawle to confirm his column would also be in tomorrow's Gazette.

(2:00 PM) Today’s weekly Amherst Bulletin (the last before Amherst’s April Fools Day election) debut editorial hometown political endorsements; and strangely enough the ONLY Column on that highly read Commentary page ALSO endorsed (for the 2’nd consecutive time in a month) the identical Select Board wannabes.

Last month after the ‘Amherst Center’ amateur columnists championed Stein/O’Keeffe, ‘Amherst Taxpayers for Responsible Change’ spokesperson Stan Gawle immediately emailed the editor and asked for equal time…you know--the “fair and balanced” thing.

He was told to “shoot for” today’s issue and submitted his piece on Sunday morning--well before the Monday’s 9:00 am deadline. Surprisingly, Mr. Gawle’s column was spiked from the print edition.

Back when I was a paid columnist for the Bulletin (under a different editor and publisher) the sacred rule was equal time on political endorsements. And as I stated earlier, my editor did not want me writing ‘Letters to the Editor’ in between columns.

Last week ‘Amherst Center’ columnist Baer “the Turk” Tierkel took the time and space to throw mud at Hwei-Ling Greeney over political lawn signs. (UPDATE: I discovered who placed her sign on public property and--as I assumed--she had no knowledge of it whatsoever).

So yes, the Bulletin underwent major changes since Publisher Aaron Julien assumed command. Like all too many carpetbaggers, he recently moved to Amherst with his wife and three children.

When he married Abigal Wilson, whose Daddy is President of Newspapers of New England, the new owner of the Gazette and Amherst Bulletin, their wedding announcement appeared in the N.Y. Times.

His wife is a shareholder and member of the Board of Directors of Newspapers of New England (not to mention being “Daddy’s little girl”).

Abby Julien is also very active with ACE, a fledgling organization that wants the schools “to provide an intellectually engaging and challenging curriculum for all our children.” In other words, spend more tax money.

And ACE has certainly gotten more than its share of ink in the Bulletin over the past three months.

ACE has of course targeted Hwei Ling Greeney for extermination and today’s Bulletin goes a long way towards accomplishing that goal.

Greeney does have an expensive half-page Signature Ad on page five (the Bulletin charges 20% more for “placement”) with 503 voters names while O’Keeffe also has the other half of that page, but with only 340 names.

Although Greeney ordered the space months ago, O’Keeffe got the top-half, above the fold, choice placement because she had fronted herself $1,500 back in December as a "campaign loan" and will get reimbursed out of donations (sure to go up if she wins).

From: Stanley Gawle
Cc:;;;; scott ;
Sent: Fri, 28 Mar 2008 9:59 am
Subject: Fw: comparable space foe Amherst Taxpayer endorsements

Dear Mr. Julien,

Newspapers flourish when the residents believe that the newspaper operates in a fair and balanced manner. This weeks edition of the Amherst is anything but fair and balanced. The Amherst Center has had two endorsement articles regarding selectboard candidates. All we asked was for the opportunity to present to the voters an alternative. Based on the emails contained herein,
I was led to believe that space would be reserved for 3-27.

A message from Noah yesterday said my op ed piece came in later than the others but it was e-mailed on Sunday morning.
He also said that my article appears on line and is read by thousands. Well, many voters especially the elderly, either can't afford computers or view them with trepidation.

This has been a rather un-fortunate situation and the horse is out of the barn but I am requesting three things for your consideration:

1. That my article appear as a guest column under the cartoon this coming Monday with the caption "Vote Greeney and Rhodes"
2. In the future, the Gazette adopt a policy that op ed pieces that are slated to appear, actually appear in the paper, not online.
3. If the Amherst Bulletin continues its endorsement in the future, that you consider affording the opportunity of a response by the other candidates that you haven't endorsed . That only seems fair.

Stan Gawle

On Fri, 28 Mar 2008 10:00:43 EDT writes:

To: the editors of the Amherst Bulletin and Hampshire Gazette
From: Irv Rhodes
RE: Amherst Bulletin March 28,2008

After reading the endorsement editorial of the Amherst Bulletin on March 28, I was struck by three things:

1. Immediately beside the editors endorsement was what was purported to be an OP-ED piece by Amherst Center writers Andy Churchill, Baer Tierkel and Clare Bertrand, this was a political advertisement and should have been labeled as such. Additionally, by having Amherst Center and the Amherst Bulletin endorse the same candidates on the same day just days away from the election (mind you that Amherst Center had previously published a very similar article in the Amherst Bulletin) leaves one with the perception that this was timed to have maximum impact on the election outcome.
2. The Amherst Taxpayers Association led by Stan Gawl, was suppose to have an OP-ED piece in the Amherst Bulletin on March 28 also, but it did not appear. It just so happens that Amherst Taxpayers supported Irv Rhodes (the writer ) and Hwei-Ling Greeney, thus the perception that the Bulletin was biased towards Amherst Center and effectively stifled alternative views,but also prevented the public from reading about the thoughts and endorsements of a legitimate group of citizens.
3. The endorsements of the Amherst Bulletin was an on again, off again affair, that should have been better planned and not done at the last minute. By having the endorsement come at the very last issue before the election, it gave no time for reaction by the candidates not endorsed by the editor, thus effectively cutting off the voices of those who would have disagreed with the editor's endorsements. This has the effect of limiting and effectively eliminating any dissenting views from being heard before the election. This is not fair and is not what a community newspaper should be about. Amherst, is rife with divisive thoughts and actions, the Amherst Bulletin should be a place where all voices of the community are given an equal opportunity to be heard, sadly this did not occur.

I am urging the Hampshire Gazette to publish on Monday March 31,2008 the OP-ED piece of Stan Gawl and the Amherst Tax Payers Association that was supposed to have appeared in the Amherst Bulletin. This would correct an injustice.
Irv Rhodes

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fire that second shot

Last year at this time I posted my recommendation to bullet vote for Select board candidate Alisa Brewer; she blew away incumbent Robie Hubley, husband of former-Czar but still Select Board member Anne Awad, by 2-1 and even outpaced His Lordship Gerry Weiss who, unfortunately, finished second.

Considering the other two alternatives, it was an easy call to suggest voting for only Brewer (although she has done little to nothing over the past year.)

When I first ran for Select Board 15 years ago against two establishment candidates (where two seats were available so each voter had two votes) I openly suggested to my supporters to bullet vote with sniper like precision for only one candidate: me. I lost—but not by a lot—and even the ultra-crusty Bulletin noted a large number of bullet votes were cast.

Because if you use that second vote you could give it to the other candidate who defeats the one you are strongly supporting by only one vote.

So I really don’t see anything wrong with telling your supporters to withhold that second vote. But I do think it’s obnoxious that candidates don’t have the guts to come out and say it publicly and instead, keep it under the radar by using whispers, phone calls and email.

And—most important--I do see it as a cracking in the coalition of Stein and O’Keeffe, the (less than) Dynamic Duo endorsed by the Bulletin’s 'Amherst Center' columnists and creators of the website 'sustainableamherst' that made such a difference last year but has already become marginalized (both the website and Column).

So apparently now, it’s every man—or woman—for themselves. As for me, I’m voting Greeney and Rhodes.

To: Editor of Hampshire Gazette
From: Irv Rhodes, Candidate for Amherst Select Board
RE: Letter To Editor

It has come to my attention that there are supporters of some Candidates for Amherst Select Board who are recommending that voters vote for only one candidate (the one they want to win) and no other candidates, even though the voter can vote for two candidates of their choice. The perverse reason for this is that by voting for only one candidate and not another candidate you therefore deny another candidate a vote and therefore eliminate the chance of splitting votes away from your candidate of choice. This is reprehensible, unethical and immoral and I will not be a part of it. Amherst voters are supposed to be electing the two best people to the Select Board and thus casting their ballots for the two best candidates. This strategy thwarts this and instead diverts votes away from another worthy candidate. It has another effect, it continues the divisiveness that has been in Amherst for sometime and perpetuates and gives strength to the perception that Amherst is not governed by its best people, but by special interest groups that have the groups interest as their priority rather then Amherst interest as their priority. It is my sincere desire that the other candidates copied on this email urged their supporters to refrain from taking part in this voting scheme and instead urge their supporters to vote for the two best candidates on April 1.

Irv Rhodes

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sunshine is the best antiseptic

Ironically Middle School 'Interium Co-principals' (and only in Amherst would you find such a title) used the ‘West Side Story’ excuse to cave in to ACLU pressure and allow the ‘Chestnut Street Journal’ with an unflattering article about the system go to press.

Like the 1999 High School cancellation of one of the greatest musicals of all time the sorry saga had, indeed, taken on a life of its own—and, as usual, not very flattering to the venerable Amherst School system.

Besides, even the clueless administrators figured out the article was already distributed widely on the web by the crusty Gazette and hip cyberzine Local Buzz, both of whom covered extensively the recent ‘Vagina Monologues’ fiasco at the High School.

Of course administrators whine about the ACLU involvement (unfortunately less effective with ‘West Side Story’) because the kids and parents unleashed them without first going thru proper channels, as in faculty advisors or administrators.

But considering the Front Page article dealt with kids feeling the school Powers That Be don’t listen to them, is anyone surprised they brought in the heavy artillery before using peashooters?

Let’s hope the kids start their own blog.

NOT Only in Amherst

Monday, March 24, 2008

Gone in 60 seconds.

Dispatch described the perp as a middle-aged white male wanted on an outstanding warrant for something benign like ‘failure to appear.’ As I entered the elegant establishment he was seated at the bar with a classy looking woman in her late 30’s or early 40’s with shoulder long curly black hair and a fur coat draped over the adjacent bar-stool, not your typical Amherst fashion statement.

As I started to approach, eyes focused on him, she turned her head slowly and smoothly--without moving her upper torso--to casually glance over her right shoulder; her right arm, blocked from view by her body, also moved smoothly…revealing a handgun lining up directly on me.

Simultaneous shots ring out. We both die. Damn it!

The fatal encounter was part of a training exercise for the Amherst Citizens Police Academy, an eight-week program I took over a decade ago. The laserdisc (a predecessor to DVD) projected onto a large screen, and contained hundreds of interactive scenarios where you as a police officer make life or death split-second decisions.

I was so distraught over the incident (having aced the first two) that I called the training supervisor the next day to asked him “what the hell did I do wrong”? “Nothing,” he said. “There are a couple of scenarios specifically designed for you to die, because that, unfortunately, is the nature of our business.”

I thought about that a lot the other day when I first heard about the gunshot death of Officer Matthew Morelli in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Officer Morelli, an 11-year veteran of the force, former combat Marine, and volunteer firefighter out on “routine patrol” radioed that he was investigating “suspicious activity” and requested backup. When brother officers arrived only 60 seconds later they discovered every cops worst nightmare: officer down.

As my very limited training experience revealed: In law enforcement there’s no such thing as “routine.”

Friday, March 21, 2008

Petty small town politics

Published on March 21, 2008

Amused by signs o' the times ... or not

To the Bulletin: I find it amusing that Mrs. Greeney, who just last week was so taken by the "visual pollution" of campaign signs, has chosen to erect her bright red campaign signs on the pristine and public Wentworth Farm Conservation Land along Route 9.

I do feel that her position on campaign signs - critical of her opponents' blue signs on private land, while placing her red signs on public land - to be indicative of her voting record these past three years on the Select Board.

Oh, the throes of "sign-gate" continue.

Baer Tierkel

Talkback: Opinion
Leave your comment: Larry Kelley Thurs, Mar 20, 2008 at 08:47 PM

So did Baer Tierkel actually observe Mrs. Greeney herself, in person erect her bright red campaign sign on the pristine and public Wentworth Farm Conservation Land?

If so, he probably has way too much time on his hands; if not he should consider the possibility it was an anonymous overzealous supporter.

And Hwei-Ling’s supporters seem to be nothing if not passionate--something Amherst Bulletin Columnist Tierkel’s endorsed candidates could use a bit more of.


Baer “The Turk” Tierkel pontificates about a Hwei-Ling Greeney sign sprouting on town public property, eh?

Of course a few weeks back Mr. Tierkel, a monthly Amherst Bulletin columnist, endorsed candidates O’Keefe and Stein--both of whom use blue lawn signs with white letters (what are the odds?)--in his cooperative column know as “Amherst Center”, aptly named since the thing you most often find in the center of the road is dead squirrels.

And back when I was a professional columnist for the ultra-crusty Bulletin my editor advised me not to write “Letters to the Editor” between columns (reminding me I was paid for my columns but not letters).

But since the Amherst Center folks probably are unpaid I guess Mr. Tierkel needs that “added value” of free PR for his anointed candidate by throwing mud at the opponent.

(PS: Yeah, I staged the photo above, but for all we know so didn't somebody else with the Greeney sign at Wentworth Farm )

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hats off to Bill (all three of them)

Bill Dwight will probably choke on his coffee with this analogy but my appearance on his radio show this morning reminded me of my first appearance on the O’Reilly Factor TV show four years ago to discuss Amherst being the only High School in the nation to perform ‘Vagina Monologues.’

Bill O’Reilly obviously agreed with my stand (the show should not go on) so there was no verbal sparring. And the other Bill this morning agreed that the parade is a celebration not a protest, so we had nothing to fight about either (darn—I had even stretched out before heading to Hamp.)

Yeah, I am getting a tad spoiled by blogging as I did let slip the word “bitch”. WHMP has an eight second delay but allowed it on the air since context is everything and the FCC would not mind me calling Osama Bid Laden a son of a bitch.

Bill Dwight also said he would march in the Amherst July 4'th Parade, so maybe we can place him next to the Town Manger.

Yesterday a mole in the Amherst Town Democratic Committee gave us a draft letter they are still working on (since late February no less):

The Amherst Town Democratic Committee may be interested in participating in the 4’th of July Parade in downtown Amherst this year.

Please kindly regard this as our official application to participate. We anticipate that those parading may exercise the rights that the U.S. Constitution, including the 1’st Amendment, guarantees to all Americans.

Please let us know in writing whether this will be acceptable. We would appreciate a reply with the next month.

Sincerely Yours,

H Oldham Brooks
Chair of the Democratic Committee

Of course Mr. Brooks is no longer Chair having lost the election last week to more moderate Leo Maley and extremist Mary Wentworth also lost reelection as Vice Chair.

See what happens when you lead your organization into an ill-conceived war?

During the second 15 minute segment we mostly talked about the current “only in Amherst” episode splashed on the Front Page of today’s Gazette where the Middle School administrators censored an article in the school newspaper unflattering to the institution.

The kids polled 175 students and discovered as Bill Dwight so aptly put it “school sucks” (yes, I guess you can say that on the radio). The school spiked the story and ACLU spokesman Bill Newman has already gotten involved.

So the school system that allowed teen agers to use the C-word, and feign masturbation to orgasm on stage as part of the their First Amendment rights censor Middle Schoolers who express unflattering sentiments about the venerable school system.

As Bill Newman said in 1999 at a rally I organized in favor of ‘West Side Story,’ after the school cancelled it: “The way to counter bad speech is with good speech, not suppression.” Amen.
UPDATE: Friday 6:15 PM Besides the AP, the story was also picked up by these folks:
DC news blog
Crusty Gazette Comments
And the next day as well

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back from the Brink

The 20-minute meeting with the Town Manager went well. He confirmed that he would allow Police and Fire personnel to march in the Amherst July 4'th Parade (So I assume that means in their official town uniforms) and that he would march as well (as he did last year).

Mr. Shaffer wants to see in writing the new policy that the Gazette mistakenly headlined as “loosening”.” The policy to allow any group to carry ONE banner or sign designating the legal name of the group is not really relaxing anything--it is more of a “clarification.”

He also said he was not going to do anything—like pull police and fire equipment--due to “hypotheticals”. As in the last two years when we did this kind of meeting, he wants us to be as “inclusive” as possible.

So we will be, up to a point. An anti-war group can march as long as the legal name of the group contains that sentiment. Abortion groups—pro or con, Gay rights groups—pro or con, and Nuclear War groups—pro or con, probably will not gain entry.

And if the Amherst Town Democratic Committee wants to boycott as they did last year that’s fine. It did not seem to keep Congressman John Olver, State Senator Stan Rosenberg or State Representative Ellen Story from marching.

And the winners are...

Nope, not her. So much for the 'Power of the Blog.'

And the winners are...

Yes, the Amherst Taxpayers for Responsible Change met last night (appropriately enough at the Rod and Gun Club) and overwhelmingly endorsed two Select board candidates. Both of whom I voted to support.

But I can't tell you who they are until the Ultra Crusty Bulletin goes to press. Gotta throw them a bone once in a while (although their editor is probably a vegan).

The Amherst July 4'th Parade Committee Executive Circle will be meeting with Mr. Laurence Shaffer Amherst Town Manager at 4:00 PM this afternoon in his office. (notice I didn't call him "Boss Hogg") No I will not blog live from there--although I assume it will be a short meeting.

And I make a return visit to Bill Dwight's WHMP radio show tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM to talk about whatever pisses me off at that moment.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Should old acquaintance be forgot...

I have beheld the Power of the Media from every possible angle: as a reporter, columnist, frequent Letter To the Editor contributor in print; as well as national news appearances on radio, TV, Cable and an early adopter off all things Internet—chat groups, listserves, and The Drudge Report.

But I have never encountered a more perfect weapon for the lone individual than this, the blog.

Seamlessly melding photos, audio, video with text made instantly available to anyone in the world (except China) via the simple button click is nothing short of revolutionary.

I once thought that if a tree fell in the forest and a reporter was not there to cover it than, indeed, it did not make a sound. These days’ chances are a motivated blogger will witness and record the event.

The Bricks and Mortar media can’t be everywhere 24/7. And they have advertisers to worry about and corporate owners who worry about offending their advertisers.

Bloggers are everywhere. And it only takes one to get the story out.

A year ago yesterday I started this blog figuring at the very least it would get me writing three or four times a week. Little did I know that it would sometimes become three or four times a day.

I think of this blog the same way I do my small business—obsessively. Allowing me--when things get rough--to draw strength from that core American value, pride of ownership.

(Now if only I can keep my cool when I spend two weeks in China!)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

And in Massachusetts state workers in Suffolk County are pretty happy, as they get the day off. Although technically I think it's called 'Evacuation Day' to commemorate the Brits turning tail and leaving Boston under pressure from cannons above (damn sneaky American).

Although at the airport coming down here on Friday I did see a commercial from Guinness asking folks to sign an Internet petition to make St. Patrick's Day a national holiday (kind of funny that a Brit company wants to establish an American holiday--but they would probably prefer we celebrate St. Patrick rather than a British defeat)

Yeah, I know today marks the One Year Anniversary of my blog. And yeah I should have something thoughtful to say. But I'm still in Florida, the sun is shining (74 degrees at 8:30 am)we need to get in our second day at Busch Gardens, get to the airport by 5:00 pm so Kira and I can fly home and Donna can fly to China.

And yeah, I'm watching as closely as I can the events in Tibet.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

When a dollar is not a dollar (Only in Amherst)

So even from Florida I can, finally, read about the 70-K water debt discovered by a rookie Amherst meter reader.

Because this is not exactly a Watergate kind of story the Bricks and Mortar media left out some context: Amherst water system does not differentiate between water and sewer, although each is billed at $3 per cubic foot (1,500 gallons). Every drop that comes into a home is considered a drop that exits via the sewer system. So essentially, all Amherst homeowners pay $6 per cubic foot.

Thus when we water our lawns or wash the car in the spring and summer we really pay twice what we should. So I’m hoping town officials charged the car wash for both water and sewer (and 99% of their usage does leave via the sewer).

Thus the $70,000 is evenly split between two separate Enterprise Funds each costing about $3.5 million annually to operate. But the state says that all monies within an Enterprise Fund have to stay within that fund and cannot be used for teachers, police or library books.

Hence Town Officials (other than DPW, of course who ride on herd on them) don’t care about the Water, Sewer, or Solid Waste Fund. And they only took interest in the Transportation Fund when they stretched the law to siphon off $100-K for outreach PVTA buses that get sparse ridership.

And that is why the Select board, acting as Sewer Commissioners, were so quick to flush down the toilet the $40-K in effluent water Umass uses for heat (but will soon be using to irrigate extensive recreation fields and in the new Science Building for cooling thus potentially doubling their usage of effluent…and why not? The town has given them a Use-All-You-Want-Free card.

So that’s why I’m confused the Town Manager had to get the Select board to officially vote to give Umass the freebie (a close 3-2 vote with 2 of the 3 Yes votes having economic ties to Umass) but when another large user is inadvertently not charged for five years do to a billing error the Select board suddenly has no role?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mutual Aid Trade Imbalance

Amount of Amherst PD overtime spent assisting Umass PD $18,500
Amount of Umass PD overtime spent assisting Amherst PD $00.00

Yeah, so much for His Lordship Gerry Weiss grand scheme to seamlessly meld Umass and Amherst Police Departments in order to save Amherst taxpayers money.

Amount of Effluent Water consumed by Umass over past eight months (at previous rate of one-sixth normal water rate): $24,204

And as we just found out with the Car Washwater fiasco (5 years without a bill): a few gallons here and a few gallons there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Must have been a B-52

So the DPW spent all summer repaving North East Street/Henry Street and already we get this? (click photo to enlarge)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Keenan on the case!

Who better to get excited about the interest free $70-K Water/Sewer debt owed by a multi-million dollar corporation than current Select board candidate (and former Select board member) Dave Keenan, pictured talking to reporter Scott Merzbach of the ultra-crusty Amherst Bulletin trying to interest him in this story. He was on "deadline" (dog bites man story no doubt) so he would would get back to Dave on Thursday.

Keenan recently paid the town $50,000 in overdue property tax and water/sewer bills dating back ten years with over half that amount due to interest (16%) and legal fees.

Keenan confirmed John Musante, new Assistant Town Manager (with a retroactive $10,000 raise), worked out the terms of the contract with F.L. Roberts and that our esteemed Select board, who are also the Water/Sewer Commissioners, were never told about this monstrous outstanding back balance. Hmmm…

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Water, water everywhere (and it's free)

Better late than never

So I suppose if you’re in the water/sewer business (even if you ARE a monopoly) a Car Wash is one consumer you may want to be especially vigilant with.

This F.L. Roberts operation on Rt. 9 at the gateway to the People’s Republic enjoyed five years without a bill…until just recently. $70,000! No interest charged, of course since it was the town’s boo boo.

Hey, you think they could have thrown in free car washes for municipal vehicles for a year. His Lordship’s rolling sign looks like it could use a cleaning.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Show Will Go On!

The all-volunteer July 4’th Parade Committee, after a pyrotechnic discussion, voted unanimously to continue the tradition of an old fashioned Parade through downtown Amherst on America’s birthday, and to stick to our original 2002 Mission Statement of honoring public servants--police, fire and military.

Any group that wishes to march may carry ONE sign or banner bearing the name of their official association. IF the name of that organization happens to carry the moniker “...against the war,” so be it.

We also reminded ourselves, that it’s all about the kids.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

So my friends over at Free Republic are in a tizzy over my photo of Gerry Weiss’s chariot. Not so much for all the goofy late-60’s early-70’s bumper stickers but for my daring to mention (although I did do it in parenthesis, meaning the writer did so as an afterthought and didn’t really view it as all that important) the car was “foreign”. Funny, somebody called it so very 90’s (well at least I’m a couple decades ahead of Weiss). The poor women who posted it--one of the very few Freepers living in Amherst I bet--kept saying, “It’s not about the car!”
Free Republic: click if you dare!

UPDATE: 12:00 NOON (Daylight Savings time): Hey FREEPERS! While I have your attention, click on this other "Only In (Anti-American) Amherst" story:
Town threatens to steal 7/4 Parade

Saturday, March 8, 2008

On the radio, waaahooooo

Even Uber Liberal Vannah seems to get it

And the Sunday Republican got around to the Illegal Immigrations story otherwise known as His Lordship's Folly. A little late maybe, but prominently placed on front of 'Local Section', not to mention Sunday being the Republican's highest print run, highest readership day (you know, have that second cup of coffee because you actually have the time to read the darn thing):

Here We Go Again

Friday, March 7, 2008


Friday 3:00 pm: Yeah, nice mug shot (click photo to enlarge). AND they spelled my name correctly. But I’m still pissed! So I have a 7/4 Parade Meeting at the VFW tonight at 7:00 pm where all of this (the annual Tempest in a Teapot, although this year it’s starting early) will be discussed and voted on.

So I will upload later this weekend. Grrrrrrr
UPDATE: 3:15 PM. My long-time associate Max Hartshorne just posted a funny blip about
me on his popular blog and I naturally had to add a response:


UPDATE: 10:00 PM. So tonight’s July 4 Parade Committee meeting was by far the most contentious in the six years of our existence. Yeah, we almost packed it in. But then you ask yourself the simply question: Is this right or wrong? And the answer was as obvious as the grand finale at a July 4 fireworks on a perfect New England night.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

His Lordship's Carriage

So is anyone surprised this is the billboard—I mean (foreign) car, that Amherst Select board Chair Gerry Weiss drives? Businesses in town center have to pay Amherst $350 annually for sandwich board sign permits.

But not Mr. Weiss for this rolling sign (click photo to enlarge).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

No Harm, No Foul?

"No agent, officer or employee of the Town of Amherst, in the performance of official duties, shall assist or cooperate with the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States in the investigation or arrest of any persons for civil or criminal violations of the immigration and nationality laws of the United States."

"There's no need for local police to get involved in what is a federal issue, immigration," Weiss said at the routine Monday Comedy Night (Only In) Amherst Select Board meeting. The proposed bylaw would handcuff Amherst police from enforcing immigration laws. "It doesn't serve any good purpose, in my mind," Weiss said

Amherst already voted in 2000 to have the Police Department ignore Marijuana laws (although if you go to their blog the current post indicates one arrest for pot possession over the weekend). Mr. Weiss also on Monday directed the Town Manager not to charge rally organizers for extra police required to chaperone the Extravaganga pot festival next month.

Now His Lordship wants Amherst PD--state certified law enforcement professionals known for their honesty, integrity and dedication--to ignore Federal immigration law.

Of course other Federal jurisdictions include assassinating the President of the United States, kidnapping, arson and assault (didn’t we just allow our High School to perform “Vagina Monologues’ to reduce assaults against women?). How far will this go Mr. Weiss?

Seven of the 19 hijackers held fraudulent passports and three had overstayed their visas. If Mr. Weiss’s goofy, illegal by-law were in effect seven years ago and an Amherst Police officer stopped one of them for a routine traffic violation heading to Logan Airport on 9/11, they would be forced to allow them on their evil way.

Fine with Weiss--especially if it had been the one targeting the White House.

UPDATE: 4:30 PM (Wednesday). So I hope I did not get my fellow bloggers over at Amherst Police Department in trouble as I posted a comment on their blog pertaining to an arrest over the weekend for pot and linked it to Mr. Weiss's current idiotic idea not to enforce Federal Immigration Law.
Amherst Police Dept Blog

Live from Northampton!

A few of you asked if I was being “set up” by Bill Dwight during my appearance on his news radio talk show this morning (“Progressive” station WHMP) to discuss the July 4’th Parade policy of restricting political messages immediately after an earnest representative of the “Iraq Veterans Against The War’. Hmmm…

Well what the Hell am I, a warmonger?

Bill was sick so Chris Collins—wayyyyy closer to my brand of politics but also as misunderstood as yours truly—ran the show.

During my interview's first commercial break I mentioned how much I respected the previous guest, a man who stood in harms way to serve his country and now invokes his most cherished right as an American to question the policy of our government.

Yeah, and maybe if Mr. Dwight were controlling the microphone he would have directly challenged me as to why they, Iraq Veterans Against The War couldn’t march. Or Viet Nam Veterans Against The War, a group founded in 1967 and still active today.

After all the Parade mission is to honor public servants—police, fire and military.

Interestingly when I returned to my Athletic Club an hour later Kevin Joy, Parade chair was waiting for me. And we talked about it. This Friday the committee will discuss allowing any group to carry ONE sign identifying who they are. And if the name of the group happens to have the words “against the war” as part of their official name, so be it.

If, however, their name has the initials KKK, NAMBLA or reads “Citizens in favor of 9/11” they need not apply.

Gotta love their waiting room art.

Thanks for the great intro Chris!

Rally for Pot? Yes! Rally for America???

So naturally last night his Lordship Select board Chair Gerry Weiss took great pride announcing he had brow beat the (Only In) Amherst Town Manager--vacationing in the Barbados, so what the Hell does he care--into dropping the idea of charging the Umass Cannabis Reform Coalition for their added impact on public safety to chaperon the Pot Rally next month.

Where was Mr. Weiss when The Grinch of a Town Manager stubbornly refused to relent on charging the Boy Scouts a tax on a sixty-year Christmas tree sales tradition?

So now it will be interesting to see if Mr. Weiss champions the July 4’th Parade Committee when we ask for a fee waiver of extra police. After all, town officials seem to think the Parade is a “political statement.”

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ultimately Dead

So I can only hope this 'Night of the Living Dead' episode has come to its final conclusion--and the dead stay dead!

It s the old "supply and demand" routine and in this case, like the game of golf, too much supply and not enough demand. Coincidentally ˜Planet Fitness' in Hadley, the New Kids on the Block, just opened their doors (after signing people up for the last six months or so).

According to the Crusty Amherst Bulletin puff piece last October, they spent $1.1 million on renovations and equipment (no wonder it took them so long to finally open).

If you borrowed that amount your monthly payment would be around $10,000 so with those ridiculous $10/month memberships they need 1,000 clients just to cover that mortgage. Then there's rent for 15,000 square feet in a Mall (another 1,000-2,000 members required) salaries, utilities, advertising, insurance (easily another 2,000.) So yeah, if they draw 5,000 members--they got a shot.

Problem is of course ALL the remaining Health Clubs on this side of the river combined don't have a total membership adding up to that.

My original report

Follow Up clarrification

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bad Boys, Bad Boys: what ya going to do?

Damn, I love it when a Umass “Associate Vice Chancellor” gets all excited (non sexually of course)? And he even cites another Vice Chancellor Esther Terry (a “Dr.” no less--like those are rare in the People's Republic) who also seems pretty peeved about these damn sex posters. Furthermore, he even declares the “Chancellor of the institution” (whoever the hell that is) has directed the offending material “that has repeatedly appeared in the window of your shared office be removed permanently and immediately.”

Yikes! Can you imagine sharing an office with the Umass Radical Student Union? Lysol anyone???

UPDATE: Sunday, 3:00 pm. My man Tommy Devine is reporting on his gold standard Blog that the kiddies have once again caved and taken down the posters.
Now you see them now you don't. As I said before Milquetoast!

February 27, 2008
Radical Student Union
Student Union Building

To the members of the Radical Student Union:

Please be advised that the Chancellor of the institution, as you have been duly informed, has directed that the Safe Sex Brochure that has repeatedly appeared in the window of your shared office be removed permanently and immediately.

I am open to discuss the ways in which opportunities exist for your group to promote its cause while removing the brochure from public view, particularly in a building that is often frequented by guests and particularly children and those who might be offended by its visual content. You can feel free to schedule an appointment with me through my Administrative Assistant, Ms. Barbara Paparazzo, in Room 416 of the Student Union Building at your earliest convenience.

Please note that I have been advised by the Vice Chancellor for Student Life, Dr. Esther Terry, that if the brochure continues to be posted in visible proximity of the public walkways of this building, that further disciplinary action may be taken collectively or individually against members of your organization. Furthermore, you stand to loose the privilege of occupying university space in the future if this action should continue.

Byron Bullock
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs & Campus Life

cc: Dr.Esther Terry
Shaun Jameson