Monday, May 5, 2008

Bully strikes out

Journalism’s #1 cardinal rule is FACTCHECK! The Amherst Bulletin failed miserably that basic concept (yet again) with their editorial Sieg Heiling the People’s Republic of Amherst arrogantly nationalizing the July 4th Parade in 2009.

First and foremost, the ELECTED Amherst Select Board NEVER voted to “back Shaffer on the question” (asserted not once, but twice).

The Boss Hogg, unelected Town Mangler deliberately dictated to the Select Board (like banning Boy Scouts from selling Christmas trees at Kendrick Park next year) his decision: Kill the private committee’s 7/4 Parade and “take over” a prime patriotic holiday Amherst discarded in 1976.

And how dare the Bulletin suggest we “find a better home on a holiday that is not so closely aligned with the cherished principles of free speech and independence.”

A group of affluent white, middle-aged men declare independence from a stodgy monarchy; but it was the ultimate sacrifice of the fledgling military—honored on Veterans Day and Memorial Day—that made it happen.

In addition to retracting the erroneous Select Board vote that NEVER OCCURRED, the Bulletin owes all Veterans an apology for pronouncing July 4’th more “cherished” than Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

Yes indeed, Shaffer’s “stance creates a hundred and one headaches for himself and other town officials before Independence Day rolls around in 2009.”

Amherst is a $65 Million enterprise that is a $1 million or so in the red. Perhaps our highly paid, appointed Town Manager could find better ways of spending his valuable time?

And if Gazette/Bulletin editors can’t find the time to properly research their viewpoints, then perhaps they should spike these editorials altogether.


What's Next? said...

Town Manager Larry Shaffer told Town Meeting Wednesday that no additional money needs to be appropriated to the Leisure Services and Supplemental Education budget to cover the costs of putting on the town-sponsored parade next year.

Given that Amherst has a $65 million dollar budget, with $1 million dollars of structural red ink, Mr. Shaffer’s claim of having $10,000 floating around unallocated that can be used for a parade is a little troublesome. How much more is floating around and for what purpose was it allocated? Taxpayers should demand a report on unallocated funds floating around Amherst government that can be used in any way Mr. Shaffer sees fit, according to Mr. Shaffer.

This is the town manager that recommended we close Memorial Pool, claiming that swimming is an archaic form of recreation. Instead, he wanted to allocate tens of thousands of dollars to make a sprinkler park on the site.

This is the Town Manager who kicked the Boy Scouts out of Kendrick Park, finally realized a large number of Amherst people objected, then reassured Amherst residents he would create a citizen-constituted Kendrick Park Use Committee to make the new policy BUT even before he gave the committee their charge, he met with Boy Scouts and kicked them out without the authority of the committee of the committee he promised would conduct an open and public process to determine the policy.

This is the town manager that spent planning department staff compensation on computers and furniture. Has our Select Board investigated or asked for a report?

If Mr. Shaffer has every good intention, he also has a habit of making duplicitous self-contradictory statements, a tin ear, poor analytical skills when it comes to policymaking and bad judgment.

What’s next from Mr Shaffer?

Mark said...

Mr Shaffer claims the $10,000 will be raised privately. Of course there are a couple of problems with that statement:

1) LSSE staff will have to devote the time to this activity - I assume they are already busy.

2) Competition from both the other July 4th parade and from the 250th celebration parade.

3) Parade content. If a business want to donate to the private July 4th parade they know that there won't be any controversial signs displayed. The town parade, however, could include ANY sign.

what's next? said...

But now Shaffer said he needs assurances from the parade committee that no one is being left out, a decision he came to following a meeting last week with the Amherst Democratic Town Committee, Amherst Republican Town Committee, the Green Party, the League of Women Voters and the anti-war group SAGE.

'These people, all to a person, espoused their concern about the privately run Fourth of July parade,' Shaffer said.

The assurances Shaffer “needs” are assurances that require the Parade Committee to abrogate their free speech rights and their right of association. The Parade Committee’s wants a parade that is not a protest parade. The policy is applied consistently to all participants regardless of political views, gender, race et cetera. The Parade Committee’s policy is not “discriminatory” despite Mr. Weiss’ framing.

Could it be clearer that Shaffer is incapable of navigating the interests - the mission and rights - of both parties?

The right to participate in the parade as a protester is not the same thing as the right to participate in the parade as a marcher. All are welcome as marchers. All participants are required to comply with the policy to not use the parade as a protest.

Shaffer and these interest groups consistently conflate the two issues because it makes the Parade Committee look less reasonable and their own position more just. Once again, could it be clearer that Shaffer is incapable of navigating the interests of both parties?

Here's an idea: How about a protest-free Independence Day Parade followed by a protest-rally? The aforementioned groups could join together to organize, pull the permit and raise funds to finance it. That way we don’t have town government raising funds to finance a protest parade that citizens may or may not want their town government facilitating. Furthermore, the solution of having the aforementioned groups initiate their own solution, raise their own funds, accomplish their owns goal without terminating the seven-year tradition of a protest-free Independence Day Parade is process parallel to the Parade Committee’s work since 2002.

what's next? said...

"But now Shaffer said he needs assurances from the parade committee that no one is being left out"

Anonymous said...

hi Larry,

This is one of those things passed around the internet -- and I admit I haven't fact checked it. But, until I see evidence to the contrary, I'm going to take it as true, and certainly as representative of a truth about those white guys who started the revolution:

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the
Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured
they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their
sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.
of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were
farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But
signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the
would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships
swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and
properties to
pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move
family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and
family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and
was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer,
Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British
General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters.
quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was
destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed
wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13
children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid
waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning
to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he
from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution.
These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken
of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty
Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged:

"For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the
of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each
other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

Terry Franklin

Anonymous said...

Larry -
We know you are in no way politically correct, but referring to the editors of the Bulletin as "seig heiling" is a new low. While you obviously intend offense to the Bulletin editors, you might want to think of how your words offend others of particular heritages. To use Hitler's words to refer to a particular political viewpoint in Amherst trivializes the way those words were originally used. I know you're not big on showing respect for people of different viewpoints, but I do hope that you can think about this one and possibly refrain from its use. You have your 9/11, and your local issues like your golf course issue and your parade. Others have their Nazi Germany and Adolph Hitler. These spats between "warring factions" in Amherst that you get involved in are minor irritants in comparison to genocide. While it's your blog and you can write what you want, I would hope that you can refrain from this sort of thing in the future.

Anonymous 2 said...

While you obviously intend offense to the Bulletin editors, you might want to think of how your words offend others of particular heritages.

ANONYMOUS, I took no offense. This is how I took Larry's comment: Larry is offended by the Amherst Bulletin and he decided to return the favor. It's an eye for for an eye thing (no offense to people who believe in the old testament or to people who do not.)

I took "Sieg Heiling" to mean being complicit with authority because you've been intimidated or you drank the kool-aid or both... and that complicity with the wrong-minded authority is an egregious offense. Yeah, it's hyperbole.

I also take it any offense taken by victims of Nazi Germany or people sympathetic to the victims plight is strictly unintentional.

Any implication that un-pc Larry has crossed the line with his reference to Nazi Germany is quintessential Amherst - don't do or say anything that has the potential of offending anyone. For that matter, I don't want to hear any references to Ghengis Kahn, South Africa, Pol Pot, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, and so on, and so forth, and on and on...

LarryK4 said...

Hey Terry,
The Founding Fathers casualty rate was a lot less than the first wave at Normandy Beach.

The reasons I used a variation of “Sieg Heil” is perfectly explained by Anonymous 2 and since it was directed—almost exclusively-- at him (and had nothing to do with his “particular heritage”), that should tell ya something.

Two years ago when the Parade entered the heart of downtown Amherst anti-war protestors standing on the corner where the Sunday vigil has occurred for 35 years included one individual holding a sign “Sieg Heil”.

maryd said...

Larry, I think that was the year my son and I carried the banner to start it off. I recall how happy and fun it was until that point, that corner, and I was actually afraid and wondered what did I get us into! A simple parade and people are YELLING at us?! Thank goodness it was short lived and the rest of the route was back to cheers.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah Mary,
They were also screaming at the police and fire units as though they were the military. And that year our Veteran’s color guard did include an 80+-year-old Battle of the Bulge combat veteran.

I loved Robbie McAllister’s response (decorated veteran of Afghanistan) that said, “I just smiled at them.”

maryd said...

I was just saying over and over to my son, "don't look at them, don't say anything, keep smiling, keep walking" through my clenched teeth. That and humming "My country 'tis of thee" for some odd reason. Sure was a learning experience!

Anonymous said...

Yes Larry. And sometimes a noose is just a piece of rope and a swastika has been used for many other purposes before the Nazis took it over. I suppose that it's crazy to think that people are so sensitive that swastikas and sieg heils and swastika remind them of the nazis and nooses remind people of lynchings, but they are. The heritage of the person you referred to has nothing to do with this. People besides gypsies, Jews and homosexuals are offended by symbols of nazi germany. And people other than African Americans are offended by nooses. The fact that some jerk held a sieg heil sign has nothing to do with this. That person was no less offensive than you, and your use of the gesture is no less offensive than that person.

With regard to anonymous 2's comments. The fact that it was unintentional would excuse it if the user learns that it is offensive and stops using it.

I also have no idea how this can be interpreted as an eye for an eye. Besides that being a foolish idea, didn't Gandhi put it to bed?

If you take "Sieg Heiling" to mean -----being complicit with authority because you've been intimidated or you drank the kool-aid or both---- watch some clips of Hitler on Youtube.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I prefer the expression “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” which Sigmund Freud may or may not have actually said.

The fact that some jerk held a sieg heil sing has EVERYTHING to do with this--especially since it seems to have gotten your attention. If Amherst hosts a July 4’th Parade in 2009 in order to embrace the First Amendment rights for all, then you can and will have jerks marching with pretty much anything they wish, including obscenities and hate speech.

So you better start getting used to it (try getting out of your Ivory Tower once in a while.)

Mark said...

I think you meant Excluding hate speech and obscenities.

These forms of speech will NOT be permitted at the town sponsored parade next year.

LarryK4 said...

No, I meant INCLUDING because how the Hell you gonna keep them out? That would be a violation of the First Amendment.

Jonathan said...

Going back to the tale about the signers of the Declaration, I can't let that chestnut pass unchallenged. is the best place to go whenever you see a sentence like "But, until I see evidence to the contrary, I'm going to take it as true". Check out the fact-checked version here.