Wednesday, April 23, 2008

And the answer is...

9:55 pm. In a stunning, despicable, display of Political Correctness (Only in) Amherst Town Manager Larry Shaffer singlehandedly decided to “Take Over” the July 4’th Parade in 2009.
Town Manager Report! 9:17 (only 12 minutes behind schedule):

Shaffer reads a press release about the Parade. Yeah, yeah, yeah we’re “remarkable”--but he quickly gets to “however”...

“First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech." The July 4’th Parade Committee doesn’t get the irony of this free speech situation. I will not mess with them this year (no rescinding their permit or pulling town apparatus). But here come another “however”:

The town will sponsor a July 4’th Parade in 2009. LSSE (the recreation empire) who runs the Fireworks will also run the Parade. And we will exclude competition by refusing a permit for any private group wishing to run an old fashioned non-political Parade.

All individuals should be allowed to carry whatever they want with the exception of hate crimes or obscenity.

Nice try. How the hell are you going to enforce that Mr. Shaffer? If the town runs the Parade then the KKK can march and anti-war zealots can march with a F_CK Bush sign... whatever. As a matter of fact, I may march in their parade with a sign saying “F_CK Shaffer.

Selectperson Alisa Brewer reads our statement sent to the board and Shaffer last week.

9: 30pm Select Person O’Keeffe calls Shaffer on his framing it as a First Amendment issue. It’s not. The Parade Committee has made many attempts at compromise…what has the town done?? Where’s the compromise on the town part?

Select Person Brewer asks about “FUNDING” the town parade???? You know the $15,000 it will cost to put on a professional production with PAID staff doing the organizing.

Ms. Brewer also mentions how Shaffer has come off as "bullying" the Parade Committee with threats. (Shaffer doesn't respond)

Weiss jumps in and says he never saw it as bullying. He also says he sees it as a 'Free Speech' issue. And finds it inappropriate for the town to participate.

The rookie Stein mumbles something about folks should have the right to protest Iraq and Awad talks about the committee yanking folks from the Parade who were carrying signs.

So if it had come to a vote it would have been 3-2 with His Lordship Weiss, former Czar Awad and rookie Stein voting to support Boss Hogg's draconian measure and O'Keeffe and Brewer opposing.


O'Reilly said...

You note that Select Board Members Brewer and O'Keefe have questions about the basis for the decision to have LSSE run the Independence Day Parade in 2009.

Were all Select Board members given a VOTE in this matter? Or is this another Weiss/Shaffer snow job?

I know Brewer and O'Keefe were duly-elected and that their vote is equal to Weiss; and Shaffer does not have a vote.

The Parade Committee should poll Select Board members on the issue and when you have a majority, request a vote.

Did Mr Shaffer report on the progress of the Kendrick Park Use Policy Committee? Does they charge allow them to consider the boy scouts request to use the park for their Christmas tree fund raiser for five weeks before Christmas?

O'Reilly said...

correction = "their votes individually are equal to Weiss' vote"

O'Reilly said...

correction = "Does their charge"

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, another Weiss/Shaffer snow job. No the Select board did not take a vote on the matter. No Shaffer did not report on the Kendrick Park Committee.

Yes, I'm going to bed.

LCC said...

How is it that the Town Manager read from a press release concerning the 4th of July Parade, before and discussion took place?
Has anyone seen the release to know how far in advance of the Meeting about the parade, Shaffer knew the outcome of the discussion? Sounds like the "secret" meetings continue to take place.

If Mr Shaffer is to walk in the perade, can all available Parade Committee members walk in front of him, carring a banner with our Group Name with messages to the town manager on the back side?

Just a thought....

LarryK4 said...

Shaffer is Boss Hogg, the unelected mayor, and as such the Open Meeting Law does not apply to him.

I was a tad surprised that he exerted such authority on his own; as you can see by my post a few hours before the meeting I figured he would ASK the Select board to form a Committee in order to put on a town parade.

He did mention later is the discussion that he was marching this year unless the Parade Committee rescinds his invite (of course we will not do that).

Yeah, it should be nothing if not interesting in the People's Republic this coming July 4'th.

The fireworks are starting early.

maryd said...

I have yet to see this "press release" in any publication. Are they relying on the internet to spread this news?

I was watching last night and just couldn't believe my ears. It was very tense behind the desks and someone was doing alot of sighing up there.
You really controlled yourself Larry.

LarryK4 said...

Thanks Mary,
That's why I had to leave the room ASAP--my control was fading fast.

Mark said...

So, Gerry and Larry want the parade to be open to everyone with all signs permitted except those with hateful messages or obscenity. So much for free speech. A parade open to all - has to be open to all. And who will be checking the signs? What if an anti-war sign contains a hateful message? Will they be re-checking signs during the parade? Will religious groups be allowed? Of course, they would have to be. What if they carried pro life signs with disturbing images? What about signs opposed to gay marriage?

O'Reilly said...

First, it's time to get to the bottom of the Weiss/Shaffer cabal. It seems that Shaffer feels authorized to make policy based on feedback from Weiss and that a discussion of the issues do not happen when other Select Board members are present, and that the other Select Board members (who are elected officials) are not being given a voice or a vote in these policies.

I would suggest that the town manager's authority would not stand if the Select Board decides to vet the issue and then vote on it. Certainly, O'Keefe and Brewer have raised concerns about the basis for the decision. Ask them to request a Select Board decision on the issue and not to delegate it to the unelected finance guy.

Ask the unelected finance guy to prepare a pro and con for private Parade Committee versus town managed parade for the next meeting.

For about a year now, Amherst residents have been objecting to this back room policy making by Weiss and Shaffer. It will stop only when the other elected Select Board members insist on it. Now is as good a time as any.