Monday, June 30, 2008

When in Rome (or China)

Tuesday (7:30 am)

The entire family and our interpreter took a taxi to a nondescript government office on the sixth floor of a building in city center to finalize the adoption paperwork.

The 40 by 20 room room was hot, with a row large windows facing out into the street along the left wall. A large conference table dominated the room and official looking plaques and flags adorned the walls, so it resembled a VFW or American Legion Hall--only all the adornments were red.

The male director of the orphanage and a female teacher (both in their early 30’s) were already there and a Provincial Government official (a pregnant woman in her late 30’s) showed up a few moments late. We signed a few documents and then pressed our thumbs in red ink and placed the thumbprint directly over our signature.

After the paperwork was done we waited a few minutes for another, higher ranked, government official (a professionally dressed women in her late 40’s) to look over all the paperwork and declare it okay. Thankfully she did just that.

Since we needed cash our interpreter took us to a branch of the state owned ‘Bank of China”. We simply wanted to exchange about $100 in cash, $150 in traveler’s checks and take $250 out of our bank via debit card.

The branch had 9 available lines staffed by young workers in smart red (with a little white) uniforms sitting behind bulletproof glass. After about 20 minutes dealing with one teller Donna managed to exchange the American money, but that was it. The teller seemed to suggest we had no money in our savings account for the debit.

Donna then went outside to the bank's ATM and instantly did the withdraw/exchange herself. I went to another line and spent a few minutes filling out a form to cash the travelers checks. She then handed me another stamped form and said go to Line Seven.

There I waited another ten minutes for the single person in front of me to complete a transaction. In the middle of this a man came up to the next window and tried to get service. They sent him away (probably to another line on the other side of the office) and he started shouting (probably because he had just waited in that line).

I worried the police or military would take him away but after the shouting match with two separate bank employees lasting a couple minutes ceased, he sat down and they serviced him.

The young man counting out my money never even looked up. After 45 minutes we finally exited the building with our Chines money. The American banking system has nothing to fear.

EYE see you

Ancient Garden

Built overlooking the river Nanming (means South Bright) by order of the Emperor, the wooden building lasted longer than he did (500 years and counting). The disgruntled workers crafted the dragons on the roof to be looking backwards, a sign of bad luck. Proved that way for the last emperor of Ming Dynasty (who had a very brief reign).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Selling is the same all over the world

Monday (dawn)

The immediate area around the city center are honeycombed with funky side streets and alleyways that look unchanged for generations.

Although you have to pay attention to the cars making their way along the narrow single lane or motorcycles and scooters competing with them.

Call it a Farmers Market melded with a giant flea market as all sorts of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats (cooked and still running around) are available all along the way.

Some of the buildings house mini open markets as well, so this is all probably year round activity.
As the only Americans in sight we stand out. As Americans with two Chinese daughters in a nation that enforces a One Child Policy we stand out all the more.

A few folks even came up and took photos on their cell phones (that, like cigarette smoking, are ubiquitous).

No, I did not consider that stalking.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Greetings from the (other) People's Republic

Sunday morning (Asian time)

Arrived in Beijing after a 13-hour flight from New Jersey. The main terminal is the largest I have ever seen and looks brand new. The marble floors, which span the square footage of a few football fields, look like you could eat off them or use them for a mirror to shave.

Our layover was three hours and we thought we would be hanging out with time to spare but the connecting flight run by China Air took forever to coordinate and we just barely made the packed flight.

We were also spread out in the plane but two passengers’ kindly switched seats so we could sit together. The flight to Guiyang, capital of the Guizhuo province, added another three hours to our airtime. It’s a bustling city of 3.5 million.

The modern airport, about the size of Bradley International in Connecticut, is nestled among mountainous peaks. The driver failed to appear, so we took a taxi to the Regal Hotel, a modern western operation in the heart of the city.

For the brief time we were in Beijing we barely attracted a second look and saw lots of other Caucasians. Here we stand out. After a brief walk around the block almost everyone we encountered looked us up and down (but in a friendly way).

Donna and Kira would use their limited Chinese and some of them would respond with limited English.

Our guide left us a note at the hotel saying rather than getting Jada on Monday afternoon the orphanage will be fringing her to our hotel lobby today at noon.

The government in China even works Sunday’s.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

You got that right!

Click to ENLARGE

So I’m glad the Bully showed some journalistic integrity (about time!) by making the July 4’th Parade turnaround article the banner lead and Ms. Awad’s crying wolf story--although still Above The Fold--a bit less hyped.

Although that hardly neutralizes the AP national wire distribution of the story on Tuesday morning, insinuating I was a “stalker”.

And even if they did play it up as the TOP news story of the week, it would not matter all that much because faithful Bulletin readers will remember that Awad and Hubley lied to them a month ago in a Letter claiming they revoked the Homestead on the South Hadley mansion and reinstated it on their tiny (up for sale) Amherst condo.

Gotta Love this Letter in the same edition

Well…I meant the one from Mr. Souweine (owner of the “House” made famous by Tracy Kidder) but Mr. Rivard’s lead letter is also equally sagacious.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Let the trial begin

Click To Enlarge/Read

Not only do I want the two of them gone from Amherst elected “public service”; but I also do not want either of them to be able to vote on their replacements. And apparently Ms. Awad’s Select Board seat will be filled this September 16. Mr. Hubley has yet to resign his Town Meeting seat, but that body is pretty negligible.

So let’s hold the Board of Registrars investigative hearing to decide their residency (especially since they will be placed under oath—not a requirement to pen a lying Letter To The Editor of the Amherst Bulletin).

And when they are proven to be South Hadley residents, then not only can they not hold local office but also they can also not vote in an Amherst precinct.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wolf in the fold (or so the little boy cried)

UPDATE 9:30 PM (Tuesday). I stole the brief video of Ms Awad giving her Nixon like resignation speech at last night's Select Board meeting from Mary Carey's blog. I was at the meeting sitting at the journalists table from 6:50 until about 8:35 live blogging but she gave the speech just prior to the 'public comment' period at 6:30 pm.

Original Post (about noon Tuesday):
When I took a photo of Mr. Weiss’s late model auto covered with lefty bumper stickers, I was standing on a town road located only 20 or 30 yards from his front door. When I took a photo of Ms. Awad gardening at her South Hadley home--also from a public road--I was over a hundred yards from her front door (my $100 Kodak digital camera has 3x optical zoom) as the house is located at the top of a steep hill.

Although he never complained about my photo shoot at his home, Mr. Weiss describes the latter as “harassment”.

Of course he also described my Open Meeting Law complaint (later upheld by the District Attorney) as having a “chilling effect” on his Select Board.

I never actually photographed the Amherst condo complex (only the real estate sign down on the front lawn advertising an Open House--where presumably any citizen could have walked through their supposed residency. Or you can go to Sawicki Real Estate web cite and take a virtual tour of their condo (bedroom included).
Take the tour (they are not home)

In our initial phone conversation (prior to calling back to apologize for shouting) Mr. Hubley voiced concerned about my use of the term “locked and loaded” on my blog, considering that a “threat” to do gun violence.

Of course I felt like responding that I would not need a gun to take him out, but knew that might be considered a threat, so I simply laughed and pointed out it was, you know, a metaphor.

Guess I will not bring my daughter Kira trick-or-treating to their South Hadley mansion this Halloween.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Select Board "discussion" July 4'th Parade

7:22 PM Nobody from the Amherst July 4’Th Parade Committee is here (under advice from an attorney). The usual cadre of malcontents are here—you know, the type that causes Rockwell to roll over in his grave.

Alisa clarifies what his Lordship misstated: that the 7/4 Parade Committee has, in addition to this evening, refused to meet with the Town Manager. She points out they met many times.

7: 30 PM Sounds like the Town Manager is backing down by saying the private committee could still have their parade next year.

Stephanie states she is “extremely disappointed” nobody from the (private) Committee is here.

Harry Brooks wants to invite the private Parade Committee to take part next year in the Protest Parade (yeah right Harry after you “take over”, eh?)

Ernie Uvater babbles about how he marched a few years back with a sign about a "Gulag" and nobody said anything to him. Of course I remember biking up to him and asking him to leave and he refused. And then got lost as I was looking for a police officer.

7:35 Town Manager confirms that this year the town will not pull vehicles but next year they will pull them if the private committee does not allow protest signs (Hmmm Boss Hogg , I thought there was not going to be a private parade next year?)

Ms Awad thinks it would be unfortunate if we have two parades next year. What the hell does she carem South Hadley probably only has one.

Jon Nelms does not want any parade next year.

Bob Romer, who has been a "member of the ACLU for 58 years", is not impressed with their recent letter saying it is only one attorney (little does he know how many attorneys vetted that letter)

Ed Cutting points out that the town could not selectively ban hate speech or obscenities if they decide to do their official protest parade.

Terry Franklin likes the idea of two parades. "Evicting" the private parade was not cool. Defends the committee for not showing up tonight. Plenty of time to fit in two parades that day.

7:50 PM. Emily Lewis (yeah, she was here on 9/10/01 trashing American flags in the downtown) doesn't like the committee using the word "Amherst". She never voted for that. "I don't want this parade representing me and my kind." Inaccurate, unfair and undemocratic to call the parade "Amherst parade."

Bob Ackerman: Boxing out the private parade by claiming the town needs all day to do its parade next year seems like a scene out of a 1950's Hollywood anti-communism propaganda movie.

8:00 (prosecutor) Rich Morse: How did this parade committee get fed into a "meat grinder." Yes, it's a "little constricted" but we should all be able to find something to love about America that day just for that hour. "Why can't we just have a celebration," One to "Celebrate what we love about America."

Nancy Foster (God, will somebody time this as she will go on and on and on...) Plugs her column in this week's Bulletin cheering the Town Manager's "take over" of the Parade.

His Lordship Weiss (mercifully) interrupts her and says not to get too deep into history. Yea! she's done.

Harry's wife Paulette doesn't want the parade privatized (where has she been for the past seven years?).

Chairman Weiss: Would advise The Town Mangler to shorten his time for the public parade next year and allow the private one as well.

Stephanie: The private committee is pretty clear what they want to do. The folks in the room tonight seem to be all over the map. Agrees a public parade would open the town up to unintended consequences as to who may show up.

Diana Stein: We can't speak for the private parade. But let's form a committee for the public parade but allow the private one.

Anne Awad (yeah, she's still here): "Form a committee, but be fair to the other (private) group."

Alisa Brewer: Folks who want to have an Amherst public protest parade might not like the idea of police and fire vehicles anyway. Opposed to spending town money on a town run parade. Don't want to see Leisure Services running a parade. Busy enough with other programs. I don't see any reason for a town parade.

Weiss summarises: So you would not have a public parade next year but would also not allow police and fire equipment in the private one? "Yes", she responds.

Ms Awad: A community parade doesn't have to cost anything (wonder if she ever heard the expression: "You get what you pay for?). Let anything and everything march at the last minute.

Carol Rothery: (League of Women Voters) Town should have a parade. But would love to have military police and fire (but you gotta wonder if they will want to attend?)

Weiss: "Do we want to give the Town Manager any direction? (pause) I don't think we're ready tonight."

(Sagacious) Stephanie: Sounds like the Board is coming around to allowing the private parade committee to have their parade again next year. Can we make that official?

I move the Amherst July 4 Parade Committee be granted a permit for 7/4/09 and they have their 3:00 pm start, but no town equipment.

Weiss: what we can agree to is the town will not take up the entire day next year and the private 7/4 parade committee will be granted a parade permit.

I don't want my comment to make it seem like I oppose what you did (speaking to Town Manager)

Shaffer: You can't tell me what to do concerning a Parade or about the use of town equipment. However, I'm deeply respectful (I just knew there was going to be a "however" in there pretty quick).

Alisa calls him on it: Community is not looking to Town Manager to solve this they are looking to elected officials (especially the ones who actually live in Amherst)

WEISS: I move the "sense of the board" is that the private group can have their parade next year but not with town equipment. After thought suggestion but not part of the official motion he "respectfully asks the committee to strike the word Amherst"

Vote passes unanimously.

The Empire Strikes Back

Yeah, and we all know what an expert the Town Mangler is at producing parades. Yikes!

If you can't stand the heat...

Click to enlarge

UPDATE: 3:35 PM. Somebody just pointed out that Ms. Awad's term expired in 09 not 2010. She couldn't even get that right!

Of course she also stated in a Letter to the Amherst Bulletin that she removed the Homestead on the new South Hadley home and filed one on the Amherst Condo (that is up for sale). Both claims are false.

Blogger (1), Powers that used to Be (zero)

So finally their tortured existence—at least as Amherst town officials—comes to an end. The resignation of Anne Awad from the Select Board caps a month of arrogant refusal to acknowledge the inevitable. Aided of course by a supportive Town Manager and a hired gun town attorney.

Yeah, the bricks and mortar media could have and should have done a lot more--especially after they used the Commentary Pages of the Amherst Bulletin to lie to the general public.

But all’s well that end’s well. Damn…now what do I do?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ding Dong the Witch is Gone!

Amherst Select Person and former Czar Anne Awad is going, going, GONE as of of September 1'st! (because she moved to South Hadley on or about April 10'th).

Of course now you gotta wonder if she votes on the winning side of an issue over the next two months and it's a 3-2 vote, is that going to hold up in court?

Bloody Sunday

So the town website is down (upgrading to "new and improved").

Thus our only source of information about Monday's Select Board meeting is Ms. O'Keeffe. Sound like the Town Manager carried out the long laundry list wishes of SB member Alisa Brewer and put together a package of background material on the 7/4 Parade fiasco.

Of course Stephanie also mentions that the Town Mangler wrote a response to the ACLU letter--that I of course just requested from her under Public Documents Law--but then town officials do get to take Sunday's off (unlike citizen journalists) so she can ignore my request until tomorrow.

UPDATE: 8:45 PM. So Stephanie just responded and she hopes/wishes/pleads I will wait until tomorrow to get the Town Mangler's letter back to the ACLU from somebody other than her at Town Hall. She's concerned (and I said in my response that she is showing her rookieness) that circulating the document could get her in trouble. Hmmm. It's a freaken PUBLIC DOCUMENT (in my response I said that 3 freaken times).

Yeah, we have a (gentle-persons) agreement that our email exchanges are 'off the record' so I will not post the actual exchanges.

What you looking at

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Real American values

Victor Patnaude, 91, passed away a few weeks back. Just one of the 1,000 WW2 vets disappearing per day. At his private funeral over in Hadley (where strangely enough many Amherst townies repose, including generations of my family) a member of the renowned ‘Highlander Bagpipes Group’ piped “Amazing Grace” while a matched pair of F-15 fighter jets swooped in low, fast and loud.

A fitting tribute indeed to a distinguished member of the “Greatest Generation,” who selflessly performed their duty that--in his case--included blocking Hitler’s equally insane ground version of a surprise kamikaze attack: the “Battle of the Bulge”.

Sergeant Patnaude’s obituary in the Daily Hampshire Gazette also declared: “One of the highlights of his life was being selected as Grand Marshal of the 2005 Independence Day Celebration Parade.”

And while perimeter patrolling on my mountain bike that day, I do so vividly recall as his open car crept into the heart of Amherst town center the jeers, catcalls and derogatory bellows from a marginal group of anti-war protesters clustered on the usual (protest) corner directly under the official town flag.

Including one idiot holding aloft a placard emblazoned with “Sieg Heil!”.

Fortunately normal folks--including a bevy of exuberant children--cheering, waiving, and saluting far outnumbered the whackos.

Obviously he did not blame his hometown of Amherst, as his final written statement to all who knew him or of him, declared that brief and shining 7/4 episode (only an hour) a "highlight," out of a very long life, exceeding well lived life.

Thank you sir! Give my regards to your band of brothers.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A brewing storm over Monday's SB meeting

UPDATE: 9:00 AM. Somebody just sent me this link below about a young lady wanting to march in a 7/4 Parade topless. Yahooooooo! Notice they have a City Councilor as naive and clueless as our own Select Board Chair Gerry Weiss.
Maybe she will come to Amherst's Protest Parade next year!

Original upload. Thursday 6:30 AM:

In a message dated 6/18/08 11:14:06 AM, writes:
Since you left the parade committee, I didn't include you on the cc, but obviously...

From: Alisa Brewer (Amherst Select Board)
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 11:11:40 AM To: Select Board
Cc: Seaman, Katherine; Weston, Gail; Arcamo, Judith; Chalfant, Linda; Musante, John; Scherpa, Charles; Hoyle, Keith; David Clooney
Helen Thelen (CF); Rothery, Carol; Peter Vickery

Subject: Re: July 4 parade: 250th rules (was: Fairness)

Hi Larry-

I assume the documents I requested below (items 1, 2, 3) will be in our Agenda packets for our Select Board meeting June 23, 2008, rather than at our desks when we arrive

Also, some legal opinion as described in that email (although not numbered item 4):

I also assume Larry is seeking Town Counsel guidance around various parade concerns, particularly as regards how to effectively handle people who "slip in" to the parade rather than register and follow the rules (regardless of one's opinion of said rules); I believe that truly is the crux of the frustration some folks are feeling, because having rules allowing or disallowing various messages is one thing, but if someone simply doesn't present themselves to the parade "authority" for "approval" -- as happened in 2005, below -- and just "slips in," there arises another problem. If a "town" parade -- whether the 250th parade or a July 4 parade (or the LSSE Halloween parade, for that matter) -- is not going to "enforce" any or some of the parade "standards" or "rules" it publishes, that would need to be very clear very soon.

Please also include all additional parade-related letters/correspondence to and from the Town since the below email of April 29, such as the one described in the local newspaper as from the ACLU, and some correspondence with the AG office and Amherst Board of Registrars (see Larry Kelley's blog for photos of these,

Please also include a print of two pages (links follows) from the private parade committee's website, as it is the material the public is currently seeing (we all received copies of letters including this material in the past, but for completeness the current webpage is important): (mission) (rules)

Please also include a brief written summary of your Town-run-July-4-2009-parade conversations with LSSE so far, especially vis a vis projected costs for the Town running the parade on Saturday July 4, 2009, with acknowledgment that the the same fundraising sources are being tapped for the usual annual LSSE July 4 activities as well as for the new Amherst 250th Parade of Sunday September 27, 2009 and the new Hadley 350th celebration.

Please also include a brief written summary of your conversations with our public safety departments regarding their feelings/opinions about their history of participation in the current private July 4 parade as well as in the proposed Town-run-July-4-2009-parade. Please include your discussion of whether you, as Town Manager, intend to *allow* our firefighters and police officers to march in a private 2009 parade as well as in the Town-run-July-4-2009-parade, including the alternatives of separate days for two parades in 2009 and two parades being held the same day on July 4, 2009.

I realize this is a lot of work, but given the circumstances I don't see we have a choice.

Below I have also included an email I sent to Gerry and Larry in April. As it clearly states my opinions, it is important that this entire email itself also be printed and placed in our packet for June 23, 2008.

Thank you for your support.

Take care,

Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 3:46:31 PM
To: Shaffer, Larry
Cc: Select Board; Weston, Gail
Subject: July 4 parade: 250th rules (was: Fairness)

Hi Larry-

Even though we may not have a Select Board Agenda item regarding the July 4 parade until a June Select Board meeting, per Gerry's comments last night, please provide the following documents to us as soon as possible, preferably in both electronic and hard copy form:

1. A copy of the Amherst 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee's Parade Subcommittee Parade Rules/Standards for September 27, 2009 (the document the excerpts in Larry Kelley's blog, and Kevin Joy's statement last night, and the excerpts from Gerry's email yesterday apparently came from)

2. A copy of the Hadley 350th Anniversary Celebration Parade Rules/Standards for June 14, 2009

3. A copy of the Northampton 350th Anniversary Parade Rules/Standards from their celebration June 6, 2004

And for those of you looking for the Supreme Court Hurley ruling mentioned during these conversations:

I also assume Larry is seeking Town Counsel guidance around various parade concerns, particularly as regards how to effectively handle people who "slip in" to the parade rather than register and follow the rules (regardless of one's opinion of said rules); I believe that truly is the crux of the frustration some folks are feeling, because having rules allowing or disallowing various messages is one thing, but if someone simply doesn't present themselves to the parade "authority" for "approval" -- as happened in 2005, below -- and just "slips in," there arises another problem. If a "town" parade -- whether the 250th parade or a July 4 parade (or the LSSE Halloween parade, for that matter) -- is not going to "enforce" any or some of the parade "standards" or "rules" it publishes, that would need to be very clear very soon.

It seems as though an update in the Town Manager's report at each Select Board meeting could be worthwhile and effective.

In order to avoid any appearance of Open Meeting Law violation in spirit, I would appreciate it if this email thread appeared in our next Select Board Agenda packet/on the table Wednesday night.

Thank you for your support.

Take care,

pg 42 General Bylaws

(ATM - March 11, 1970 - Art. 25)

1. A public meeting, parade or other event may be held on any town common or town way on reservation therefor first being secured from the town manager who shall issue it unless the meeting, parade or other event would conflict with another already so reserved, or unless the parade would so interfere with the vehicular traffic as to present a safety hazard. In the latter event, the town manager shall design an alternative parade route which shall adequately achieve the purposes of the paraders. Nothing shall prevent a nominee for elective governmental office speaking to any group, or an informal, spontaneous gathering of less than 75 persons, on any town common, without such reservation, if such activity does not interfere with another event already in progress or previously so reserved. Failure to obtain a reservation for a parade shall be punishable by a fine of not over $50.00.
pg 11 Amherst Town Government Act

3.244 Regulation of public ways
The select board shall control and regulate the public ways.

pg 15 Amherst Town Government Act

4.63 Supervision of town properties
The town manager shall have jurisdiction over the rental, use, maintenance, and repair of all town property except school property and property under the control of the town library trustees. The town manager shall be responsible for the preparation of plans and the supervision of work on existing buildings or on the construction of new buildings other than school buildings and buildings under the control of the library trustees. The town manager shall maintain and repair school buildings if and to the extent that the school committee requests, and the town manager shall maintain and repair buildings under the control of the library trustees if and to the extent that they so request.

[ Originally published on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 ]

To the editor:

I write in response to letters by Jean Fay and Paul Hollander about me.

Hollander's letter, claiming that I was part of an effort here in Amherst ''to suppress or curtail the celebration of July 4th,'' boggles the mind. It was really parade organizers that were curtailing the celebration by excluding certain groups, in particular SAGE, which prompted my suggestion to the Select Board that they not be allowed to use town vehicles.

The next night, Parade Committee member, Kevin Joy, telephoned Fay to let her know that I told the Select Board that I represented the Amherst Democratic Committee. Joy also told SAGE that I had posed as their representative!

Contrary to Fay's claim, I never assured her that I ''would not do anything that could be considered offensive by anyone involved in the parade.'' What she had actually asked me for was my assurance that ''no one who marched in the Democratic contingent would be disruptive.'' I told her that I could not control what others do.

Christina Rose and I chose not to join the other Democrats. With our antiwar signs saying, ''This war is illegal'' and ''GIs must refuse to go,'' we slipped in behind their group because a big gap at that point allowed us good visibility. A Democratic Committee member even informed Joy that we were not part of their group.

Why, then, did Fay single me out when a man with a protest sign marched with her for the entire parade route? Failing to grasp Kevin Joy's agenda, Fay let herself be intimidated into attacking me and offering her fatuous apology for protests against the war at a parade that turned out to be an ode to militarism.

Mary L. Wentworth, Amherst

From: Mary L Wentworth
Date: July 11, 2005 9:56:53 PM EST
To: Amherst Democratic Town Committee
Subject: [adtc] The Other Side of the Story

I hope that the following provides a context for and another view of the Fourth of July Parade:

On the Monday before July Fourth I went to the meeting of the Select Board to express concern about community groups being prevented from participating in this event. I was aware, as was the SB, that the Supreme Court had ruled that private parade organizations have the right of freedom of speech to shape the message that they wish to convey (in this case, a St. Patrick’s Day Parade Org. in Boston excluded a gay group) and can exclude groups that are not in sync with their message. This celebration, however, is our Independence Day. I suggested that the Town could withhold permission for town property, e.g., fire engines, ambulances,etc. from being used in the parade if various groups were not allowed to participate.

Early that evening I received a telephone call from a very angry Kevin Joy of the Parade Committee. He spent about twenty minutes trying to intimidate me. Among other statements, he told me that he had worked for the FBI and the CIA for twelve year. He demanded a statement from me about the right to bear arms and threatened me with having to appear on the Bill O’Reilly Show. etc. Later on, I had another call. This time from Susan Theberge from SAGE, a group that was being told that they could not march this year because they had violated the no-anti-war-signs rule last year. If last year the PC had talked with members of a group carrying anti-war signs they would have discovered that they were out-of-town Quakers and had nothing to do with SAGE even though they were marching behind them.

Susan had a question that she said she would like to ask me. When I went to the SB had I told them that I was a member of SAGE and represented SAGE at the SB? She said that although she had never met me, she did not think that I would do that, but she had to ask because KJ had told her that I had. The next night, Jean called, and in a very different tone of voice, demanded to know whether I had told the SB that I represented the Amherst Democratic Town Committee. Again, it was KJ at work. I said I thought this guy was off his rocker, but Jean said,NO, she knew his family because she had had his two older boys in kindergarten. The talk turned to the parade. Jean expressed concern about exposing her daughter to disruption during the parade and that, after all, the parade is for the kids. She talked about her concern that parents who would be sending children to her kindergarten class would get the wrong impression of her if something happened. I answered that I thought people in Amherst realized that many of us wear different hats at different times. Jean said that she was going to pull the ADTC application unless I could assure her that no one would be disruptive in the Democratic contingent. I replied that I could not do that because I had no control over what people might do. I made no promises concerning my plans, one way or the other.

Christina Rose and I went to the Common on the Fourth, wearing our signs which read THIS WAR IS ILLEGAL and GIs MUST REFUSE TO GO. We slipped into the parade when we saw a good-sized gap between a convertible carrying some vets and the ADTC. We walked about fifteen feet behind the ADTC contingent and about fifteen feet in front of the convertible, giving our signs good visibility. We had decided beforehand that we would not be part of the ADTC contingent because 1) the contingent would not have gotten through the starting point and 2) the Committee’s desire to march in next year’s parade would have been put in jeopardy if this PC remains in charge. When we joined the parade we could easily have moved up right into the ADTC group at that time or at any other time, but chose not to for the reason already cited.

When the parade came to a momentary halt opposite the fire station, Larry Kelley asked us to leave and we refused. Both Christina and I felt that we wanted to inject a different note to the over-all militarism of this parade. I had prepared a very brief leaflet that pointed out that not only was the war illegitimate according to international treaties and our Constitution but that those documents make it incumbent on us citizens to do everything in our power to stop our government from pursuing such a war — a crime against humanity. We felt that our signs were a contribution to this effort.

Then KJ appeared and was quite persistent, making the mistake of grabbing my arm. We told him that we were not leaving. Harry Brooks walked back from the ADTC contingent to speak with KJ who wanted to know if he was with us. Harry said, “No, I’m with them” pointing to the ADTC and making the distinction. KJ left and the parade moved on, but not before I noticed that someone was carrying a sign in the ADTC group that said, HONOR THE BILL OF RIGHTS in small letters and END THE GULAG in big ones. Wow! This sign was allowed into the contingent when it drew attention to this disgusting aspect of the war on terrorism.

As Christina and I approached the intersection of Triangle and East Pleasant, we could see a police officer starting to move toward us and, feeling that we had passed the bulk of the spectators, we moved off to one side. I am told that Jean, rather than telling Kevin Joy in no uncertain terms that we were not part of her group, apologized to him which, of course, reaffirmed his position that we were, overriding what Harry had told him.

When The Republican came out with the PC’s version of events, I wrote a letter which was published on Friday, correcting the error, and ended by asking, “Isn’t it a little strange that freedom of speech can’t be tolerated on the Fourth of July?”

Mary Wentworth

*From: *Alisa Brewer >
*Date: *April 16, 2008 1:22:46 PM EDT
*To: *"Gerry Weiss (Select Board)" >
*Cc: *"Larry Shaffer (TOWN MGR)" >
*Subject: **July 4 Parade Select Board agenda item?*

Hi Gerry-

Remember how I insisted Monday night at our April 14, 2008 Select Board meeting that we needed to be clear what was supposed to be the *point* of the future July 4 Parade agenda item you said we need?

I know time is short, but I hope you've had some time to think about what the July 4 Parade Agenda item will be labeled, and what the plan for handling it will be, and how that plan will be communicated both prior to and at the Select Board meeting. And of course it will need to be more widely advertised than our usual Select Board agenda items.

All I see here with a July 4 Parade agenda item is a public relations debacle,* with perfectly reasonable folks having more fodder for accusing us of spending too much time on distractions rather than on our long term budget deficit and upcoming Town Meeting business.

We know Larry Kelley's blog is not particularly widely read, and his actions often more likely more harmful to the private July 4 parade committee's work than helpful, but we must be sure not to lump Larry Kelley, Helen, and Kevin together when dealing with all this, much less with all the other private July 4 parade committee members and supporters. Just as Larry Kelley is not *the* July 4 parade committee, the Amherst Town Democratic Committee is not *the* face of Amherst Democrats, and Harry Brooks is obviously not the face of the Amherst Town Democratic Committee, either. Nor is the LWV Amherst "position" of a year or two back of any particular representation of all LWV Amherst members. Although issues by a small number of people are important just like those raised by larger numbers are important, we'd be remiss in our Select Board duties to let all the furor stirred by a very small handful of folks who simply refuse to compromise distract us from our work.

I have no idea why three July 4 Parade committee members came forward during public comment at our April 14 meeting (and expect that in hindsight they are sorry they did), but I do understand their apparent desire to be able to move on from the concerns that have been brought up over and over during the past few years, just as I believe you seem to feel the free speech issues involved have not been adequately addressed.

I see that we have a couple of things to "settle" in the Select Board July 4 Parade agenda item:

1. The Select Board's role in signing off on activities associated with the public way: similar to the Cushman May Day festivities, the LSSE Halloween parade, etc. The necessary paperwork for that decision, showing Public Works & Public Safety approvals like the annual May Day festivities just did, should be prepared for and handled at the same Select Board meeting you schedule this July 4 Parade agenda item for, not inadvertently pushed out so that it can all be revisited for the umpteeith time closer to July 4. Clearly Public Works & Public Safety are already working under the assumption they need to "make way" for the July 4 Parade route. We need to get the underlying infrastructure established out of respect for the town personnel handling those arrangements, modifications, etc..

2. The Select Board's role in charging for the services needed by a parade: The Select Board does not, to my knowledge, establish how much "parade services" cost, as I don't recall seeing any reference to such associated with past parades such as this July 4 parade, the LSSE Halloween parades, past Earth Day parade, Memorial Day parades, upcoming 250th parade, etc.. It is my understanding that the Town Manager establishes this fee schedule. The private July 4 Parade committee has not, to my knowledge, complained in any fashion about the amounts they are going to be charged in fees. Simply stating the Select Board's role here may be useful to the public.

3. The Select Board's role regarding town personnel & equipment marching in a parade: the Select Board does not decide whether or not the firefighter & police personnel & equipment (and any other interested Town departments, such as LSSE, Senior Center, etc.) march in a parade. The Town Manager is the manager of those personnel and resources. Our Select Board role is limited to convincing him to do it our way, similar to the Human Services Funding funding mechanisms preferences established by the Select Board against the advice of the Town Manager.

4. The Select Board's role in communicating the ownership of the parade to our community: Yes, people from outside Amherst would not necessarily recognize that a July 4 Parade is not run by the Town itself, but it is also true that many communities across our country do not run their own parades, but instead have the parades run by private organizations. If anything, this privatization is becoming more widespread over time as municipalities find their resources stretched further and further. We know for a fact that our Town cannot afford, in money or person hours, to run a Town July 4 parade; it's simply too big an endeavor with our limited resources. Since we don't "own" the parade, and a private entity does "own" it, the rules of free speech and freedom of assembly are somewhat differently applied. The Select Board and the Town Manager can try to bring people together to come to a common understanding of the rules in order to maximize everyone's pleasure with the private July 4 parade, but we have relatively little "hold" over the parade itself, as described above. If you do not believe that the Town cannot force the private parade to accept any and all participants, you should ask Town Counsel to explain it during this Select Board agenda item. I would ask you to be cautious in any public assertions, in that it was previously misstated at a Select Board meeting something to the effect that being unhappy with the national Boy Scouts of America discrimination policies might be reason to discuss the Amherst Boy Scouts Christmas tree sales, when clearly most members of the Select Board were not aware that the national Boy Scouts of America (revolting) discrimination policies are legally protected as a private *and* patriotic organization.
Communicating the ownership of the private July 4 parade can also include publicly recognizing that in some communities, private parade organizations have *not* established any reasons to refuse anyone's participation in their private parade. It is also true that is some communities, private parade organizations have *not* faced that utter insistence that *any* slogan is appropriate and permissible, whether it has anything to do with *identifying* the entity marching or not. It is also true that in some communities, the private parade is a lot more like a block party with costumes, where everyone does their own thing, and that sort of parade does not clearly delineate between "parade" and "protest" and "rally." That does not happen to be the choice of the current private July 4 parade committee. That may be the choice of a future parade committee. No one is forcing the public to acknowledge or attend any private parade; people can "vote with their feet."

5. The Select Board's role in participating in the private July 4 parade: Given all of the above, and that the Select Board has been invited to participate in the private July 4 parade, it would be appropriate to discuss during this July 4 agenda item whether the Select Board will be marching in the private July 4 parade. If it become apparent during this July 4 parade agenda item that the Select Board is not yet ready to make that decision, then that separate issue of Select Board marching as a Select Board could be on a later agenda. Given all that has been discussed, it would make sense to at some point take a formal position on the Select Board's marching participation, both as a statement of the Select Board's support or lack thereof of the private July 4 parade, and as clear direction to any Select Board members who may be interested in marching in the private July 4 parade. It does not benefit anyone to have that be unclear.

I'm really sorry this is so long. I do very much appreciate your consideration.

Take care,


So I guess the only email I would add to this long exchange from Select Person Brewer to all the Powers That Be is this one (same time frame) gained through public documents law:
From: Chalfant, Linda
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2005 4:45 PM
To: Del Castilho, Barry; Musante, John
Subject: The Parade

I just received two phone calls from Harry Brooks asking if LSSE would
handle the July 4th parade next year. Since he called twice - I told

- my knowledge of parades is nil

- this is an extremely busy time for the department and we struggle to
handle all of the special events that we currently have in addition to
the summer programs

- it is unlikely that we could handle this additional assignment without
adding staff

Linda Chalfant, Director
Amherst Leisure Services and Supplemental Education

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To protect and to serve...

So if you can possibly think of anything worse than losing your toddler a few days before Fathers Day, please don’t tell me.

When we dial 911, they respond—in most cases almost instantly.

And when they need help, they too call 911. For police, the dreaded dispatch is "officer down!” And for anyone involved in Emergency Services the call about an unresponsive child in a backyard swimming pool is equally harrowing.

As is often the case, police arrived first on the chaotic scene.
A cruiser rushed a mile to deliver the precious cargo to a waiting ambulance.

Springfield police blocked traffic along the hospital route to allow the ambulance to make better time. A firefighter and police officer performed CPR all along the way.

Despite this seamless cooperation between emergency responders and the frantic initial attempt at revival by her father, the little girl is gone. A family devastated beyond words.

Jesus “Ricky” Arocho is an Amherst Police officer. A day after the unspeakable event, off-duty fellow officers descended on his house and dismantled and removed the above ground pool. And on Saturday they attended in mass the funeral service.

Please send whatever you can (if only your prayers.)

"The Arocho Family Fund"
c/o Peoples Savings Bank
56 Amity Street
Amherst, MA 01002

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The game continues...

Amherst Board of Registrars
Town of Amherst

Under the General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 51: Section 48 please consider this a formal complaint regarding the registered voter status of Robie Hubley (also an Amherst Town Meeting member) and his spouse Anne Awad (also a Select Board member.)

On April 10’Th Mr. Hubley freely signed a ‘Declaration of Homestead” for a recently purchased estate--twice the size and value of their Amherst condo--at 4 Jewett Lane, South Hadley. That notarized one-page legal document clearly states: “I own and am possessed and occupy said premises as a residence and homestead.”

Mr. Hubley and Ms. Awad also both signed a mortgage with Florence Savings Bank (an FDIC institution) for the property in South Hadley containing the following provision: ‘Occupancy: Borrower shall occupy, establish, and use the Property as Borrower’s principal residence within 60 days after the executions of this Security Instrument.” That residency deadline passed on June 10.

In response to this legal information going public, the couple published a Letter in the Amherst Bulletin declaring: “The homestead declaration, cited frequently by this newspaper as proof that we are already living in South Hadley, was an error on our part. We were unaware that such protection can only apply to one’s primary residence. We removed the homestead declaration as soon as we realized the error. It now applies only to our Amherst home as it has for years."

But according to a check of the Registry of Deeds this morning the Homestead for the South Hadley residency was never “removed” and is still in legal effect. No such Homestead exists for any location in the town of Amherst. And the state only allows one Homestead per couple.

The couple is also actively trying to sell their North East Street condominium.

Ms. Awad’s Select board seat will be more expensive to fill via a standalone Special Election, and the deadline to piggyback her open seat on the already scheduled September 16’th primary ballot (resulting in significant savings to taxpayers) is fast approaching.

I ask for a speedy resolution to this matter.


Larry J, Kelley
Signed and sworn under the penalties of perjury

ACLU spanks Amherst, again

The American Civil Liberties Union has yet again taken issue with overbearing heavy-handed (Only in) Amherst town officials: last March Middle School officials tried to suppress an unflattering student newspaper article, and now it’s the threat by Amherst Town Manager Larry Shaffer to “take over” the July 4’th Parade.

After the town abandoned the Parade in 1976, a private all-volunteer committee revived it immediately after 9/11 to honor and commemorate public servants—police, fire, ambulance, active military and veterans.

The parade is promoted as a celebration—a birthday bash for the United States of America.

Since its rebirth however, the private committee has endured constant criticism from a narrow (minded) group of individuals who wish to display their political propaganda at the private group’s expense.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a private committee could selectively squelch messages they deem inappropriate.

Three years ago the Amherst Select board, under former Czar Anne Awad, drew a reprimand from the District Attorney for violating the Open Meeting Law by using emails to plot the demise of the Parade.

So this heavy hitter coming down on the side of the private July 4’Th Parade Committee should end the controversy.

Ultra-liberal Amherst doesn’t want to get into a fight with an organization many folks consider their bedfellow. Besides, when the town loses in Federal Court, they will have to reimburse ACLU legal expenses.

Republican (newspaper that is, gets the scoop

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bringing a gun to a knife fight

Well I hope the town did not pay much for that rather short letter. So yeah, I will implement the “local” option and when they blow me off, will recontact the AG. Notice the AG said they would not take up the case “at this time.”

As some of you may remember another town meeting member challenged on the floor of Town Meeting the right of Anne Awed to act in behalf of the Select board and nobody ever mentioned this option of going to the Board of Registrars.

(Yeah, I noticed the fudged receive date but am not sure what's up with that)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

If you want it done right...

(Click to enlarge. Yeah, nice stationary)

Wow! So the AG declines to initiate a ‘quo warranto’ action “at this time.” Okay…fair enough. After all, my original complaint targeted Robie Hubley a one-of-240 Amherst Town Meeting member, so I understand why the AG considers him exceedingly small potatoes.

My best piece of legal evidence was the Homestead declaration signed by Mr. Hubley on April 10 that legally declared South Hadley his new home. His wife Ms. Awad, one-in-only-five-Amherst-Select Board member, did not sign the Homestead; although she did sign a FDIC mortgage agreement that same day swearing she would be a "primary resident" of the South Hadley home by June 10.

Of course what I find fascinating about this is the town attorney sent a letter to the AG defending against my complaint (at whose request and how much cost to the taxpayers of Amherst?)

Because the AG Assistant By-Law Coordinator neglected to actually include the Amherst town attorney’s letter I’m not sure what he had to say. But it sounds like a bureaucratic delaying action and nothing more.

If I am forced to wait until 4 days before a primary election or the Fall Town Meeting (as this part of Mass General Law Chapter 51 Section 48 requires) to challenge the arrogant couple, it will be too late to get Ms. Awad’s Select Board seat on the September 16 primary ballot, thus costing taxpayers thousand$.


And this is their best defense???

And it only gets better...

Amherst Bulletin
Column, Larry Kelley
Published February 2003

Time now has a joyous new means of measurement, BK and AK: Before Kira and After Kira. Yes Kira Li, sixth generation of Kelley to call Amherst home, you have vaulted to the top of the totem pole, realigned the pecking order, and made mornings infinitely more worthy of awaking to (in spite of the early hour).

We didn’t feel obligated to retain your Chinese name (Huai Yun Shi) because all the little girls from your orphanage shared the same surname. Let that be your first lesson in the way of bureaucracies: they choose the path of least resistance. But then, they have to care for so very many like you who are cast aside simply because of gender.

We plucked you from an orphanage two hours drive from Hefei the capital of the Anhui province, a predominantly agrarian area (renowned for its beautiful women) as dirt poor as our own Appalachia. You had 11 other roommates—all girls-- in an unheated room measuring only 21 feet by 11 feet, with one caregiver per eight-hour shift.

Three cribs touching end-to-end on the left wall and three more similarly aligned on the right, with two babies per crib, all bundled up like skiers at a Vermont resort (outside temperature was in the 40’s). You occupied the middle crib on the right now empty because a family from Spain liberated your crib mate the week before.

But your caregiver shed tears when Donna took first gently took you away from her that long awaited afternoon in the Hotel Conference room (12/16). So we’re confident she did everything possible for you—but with eleven other baby girls constantly craving attention…well, it’s hard to ration love.

On the drive to the orphanage we visited the bustling area where you were found on 9/24/01, the very day you were born. Some birthday present, eh?

Maybe your mother was too poor to support you; or perhaps your father desired a boy. Because of the ubiquitous abandonment of girls, China recently relaxed the ‘One Child’ policy--allowing a second try for a boy. So perhaps your parents had to unfairly choose between you and an older sister.

Yin/Yang, life’s opposites interacting together. If not for the nightmare of your initial world entry, our dream to become parents would never have materialized. Chinese legend also tells of an ethereal red thread that winds through space and time to create a cosmic connection, bringing together those who were destined to be.

Very early the morning before we became a family a dispatch from Amherst delivered the sad and stunning news that an old friend had died. For over 20 years he always took credit, partially true, for bringing your new mother and I together.

Just don’t ever believe that Chinese people loathe little girls. Anytime we went anywhere with you in public we attracted a crowd of well-wishers. And women would constantly come over to inspect you to make sure we had dressed you warmly (in China that meant onion-like layering).

We met a man from Houston who beat the odds by adopting a 2-year-old boy (96% of China adoptions are girls) who was raised by foster parents wanting a companion for their lone little boy. Tragically, the natural son drown--yet they still had to surrender the foster child to an American.

Resentment from the Chinese towards us was almost nonexistent. Even the stoic military guards in olive green uniforms would occasionally smile over the antics of baby Chinese girls enthralling the crowds of curious onlookers, while their proud middle-aged American parents held them tightly.

On Christmas Eve at about 11:45 am, with the American consulate closing at noon, you became an American citizen. No flag waving, no singing the Star Spangle Banner and, in fact, most of the 18 other couples in the cramped room didn’t even stand as we raised our right hand and swore that everything provided in the written documents was correct.

But the Peoples Republic of China’s 1. 2 billion populations was reduced by 1 and the town of Amherst, also sometimes referred to as the ‘Peoples Republic’, increased accordingly. Perhaps no town in American is more accepting of diverse cultures and beliefs (as long as your not a Republican of course).

So when locals see us walking (any day now) down the street or dining at a downtown restaurant, inevitably some will think that I have done a good and noble thing in “saving” you.

Little do they know, my darling daughter, quite the opposite is true: My salvation is you.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One bad apple (or two)

Click to enlarge/read

So now we have not one but two flagrant violations of Mass General Law Ch. 40 Section 14. We purchased land without a two-thirds vote of Town Meeting and we are paying—if the deal goes through—over 25% of appraised value.

Previous post

note April 10 publication date of previous post (day Hubley/Awad became South Hadley residents)

Friday, June 13, 2008

A (bad) night at the opera.

My initial reaction to the banner in Amherst town center hyping the play “Our American Cousin” was not overly favorable (besides wondering why a Northampton affair gets subsidized space in Amherst).

For you non-history types, President Lincoln was watching it the night John Wilkes Booth placed a 44-caliber derringer just above his left ear and pulled the trigger. As a helpful reminder, the advertising flacks even placed a portrait of Lincoln on the banner.

Leaping from the private box about 11 feet to the stage Booth broke his leg. Unaware of the assassination, Dr. Samuel Mudd treated Booth’s injury the next day and now the term “your name is Mudd” denotes strong disapproval. As in, our current President may as well be ‘Mudd’.

Not just individuals, but an entire city can suffer the stigma as well. A generation of Americans blamed the city of Dallas for that awful day in late November 1963. And the assassination of his brother Bobby five years later in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel started the downward spiral of that once Grand establishment.

When I uploaded on Blogger the photo I snapped from my bicycle seat and then clicked on it to enlarge, I noticed the URL for the play.

Ahhh…so it’s not the original comedy as presented that nefarious night in Washington, D.C. Just an artistic interpretation of what could have transpired (immediately after the greatest President in US history was shot point blank in the brain).

Okay, I’ll still pass.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A sucker born...Especially in Amherst!

So of course Amherst Town Meeting, mimicking the spending habits of a drunken sailor, purchased the property on Main Street—two lots that suddenly went from $400,000 down to $270,000 when the professional appraisal (as opposed to the worried-about-his-job town assessor) came back this morning.

And if you look at the “historic” landscape now, it resembles something out of the ‘Wizard of Oz’--only the tornado deposited three tired old houses instead of just one.

Naturally Mr. Moderator (a highly-paid Amherst College employee, the same entity that donated two of the houses and paid the over $110-K moving costs to dump them on Main Street) dictated the deal only required a simple majority vote instead of the two-thirds vote that is REQUIRED anytime borrowing is involved.

And the suddenly revised motion clearly stated “appropriate $270,000 for the acquisition of said land, and to meet such appropriation, appropriate and transfer $81,000 from the Community Preservation Fund annual estimated revenues, with the additional $189,000 to be borrowed in anticipation of receipt of a grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

But even if the state comes through with a grant of $189,000 (that could take a year or more) and we “borrow” that amount in “anticipation” of the money eventually arriving, is that not still “borrowing”? If so, tonight’s vote required a two-thirds majority.

If I borrow ten bucks from you today and give you a post-dated check (and you assume I am a premiere businessman in operation for over 26 years and would not risk image damage by bouncing a $10 check), is that not still "borrowing"?

The Dog-and-Pony Show was pretty hilarious: they even Photoshopped in a ramshackle house painted purple to illustrate what could happen if we did not buy this property right now (“This special offer ends tonight. Call now with your credit card in hand as operators are standing by!”)

And they were sooooo cocky they did not even bother to have a Standing Vote or (written) Tally Vote, almost always required for borrowing (unless the voice vote is unanimous).

Yeah, I used “Point of Order!” to ask if the Town Attorney vetted this simply majority vote concept and was told “yes”. But then, this is the same Town Attorney who says it’s okay for Awad and Hubley to live in South Hadley and remain on as Amherst Town officials.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

D-Day. Decision, decision, decisions...

So today is the day—because as of today Ann Awad is, by her own hand, a resident of 4 Jewett Lane, South Hadley. And thus, disqualified from her high-ranking Amherst elected Select board position (with its $300 annual salary).

The FDIC backed mortgage, signed on April 10 under pains and penalties of Federal Law, clearly states: “Borrower shall occupy, establish and use the Property as Borrower’s principal residence within 60 days after the execution of the Security Instrument and shall continue to occupy the Property as Borrower’s principal residence for at least a year after the date of occupancy”

And my friends in the legal profession tell me that US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan frowns on bank fraud—even for a petty, egotistical reason such as this.

Tomorrow night Amherst Town Meeting will discuss spending $400,000 to preserve two Main Street lots, a stone’s throw from Miss Emily’s Homestead. Last week in a procedural move designed to enhance the probability of passage the motion passed by almost exactly a two-thirds vote.

So one or two votes (and Hubley and Awad always vote the same) could decide the difference on this important issue.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"Trailer for sale or rent..."

So yeah, when I picked up my Amherst Bulletin on Thursday and spotted the real estate ad for an “open house” at the Awad/Hubley Amherst condo today (Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00 PM) I planned to investigate with camera in hand.

But yesterday two heavy-hitters (one in the legal profession and another in the media) informed me that I was about to be hit with a SLAPP suit for “intimidation” or “stalking” or making one feel “tortured”.

And since both Select Person Awad and Town Meeting member Hubley (also a former Select Person) are—at least technically—still Amherst public officials, they would rely on the town attorney to file the suit at taxpayer expense.

Of course, BOTH my heavy-hitter sources said I would win hands down since Awad/Hubley are public officials and both are dead wrong about this residency issue but it would take time, money and an initial headline or two that would not be overly sympathetic (since the brick-and-mortar media fears blogs they would love to headline a story “blogger gone berserk.”

But I cycled by anyway, as their condo is on a bike route I do at least twice weekly.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Why it matters

Update: 2:45 PM

Ultra-informed source tells me that the Select board voted 3-2 on February 25 to place the 3% CPA surcharge on the Town Meeting warrant (with, of course, Anne Awad voting in the majority).

On April 7 the newly constituted Select Board (Greeney out, O’Keeffe and Stein in) signed the Warrant for the annual Town Meeting and nothing could be added after that.

On April 23 the Select Board voted 3-2 (Brewer and O’Keeffe opposed, Awad, Stein, His Lordship Gerry Weiss in favor) to recommend/approve Article 24, the CPA tax increase to 3%.

My point, of course, still applies (like a Harpoon from Hell).

Original post 11:45 AM:

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
June 6, 2008

Dear Attorney General Coakley,

On May 20 I requested you undertake a ‘quo warranto procedure’ to remove from office Amherst Town Meeting member Robie Hubley because he had signed on April 10 a ‘Homestead’ declaration for a residency in South Hadley.

Both Mr. Hubley and his wife Anne Awad, currently an Amherst Select Board member, also signed a mortgage that day with an FDIC insured bank that clearly states: “Occupancy: Borrower shall occupy, establish, and use the Property as Borrower’s principal residence with 60 days after the execution of this Security Instrument and shall continue to occupy the Property as Borrower’s principal residence for at least one year after the date of occupancy.”

Since the Homestead declaration also covers Ms. Awad, it is quite possibly an investigation will conclude that she was no longer entitled to serve on the Amherst Select Board as of April 10.

On April 23 the Amherst Select board voted 3-2 (with Ms. Awad making the motion and then voting in the majority) to place on the Annual Town Meeting warrant an article to increase the Community Preservation surcharge Tax from 1.5% to 3%. Town meeting approved the measure and it will be placed on the November Ballot.

But, if Ms. Awad were not legally entitled to vote as a Board member on April 23, the outcome would have been a 2-2 tie and the measure would not have been placed on the Town Meeting Warrant and would not appear on the ballot this November.

Certainly as of June 10, because of the mortgage, Ms Awad is no longer a resident of Amherst. And from that day forward any 3-2 vote of the Amherst Select Board that she participates in will be subject to legal challenge.

In fairness to the voters of Amherst, could your office please expedite an investigation into this matter?

Sincerely Yours,

Larry Kelley
Amherst Town Meeting
Amherst Redevelopment Authority

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Anybody here, see my old friend Bobby?

That evening, an otherwise routine mid-week school night, I was home alone. I turned on the TV around 9:00 PM to one of three channels we received up on Crow Hill (the Irish part of Amherst) and live from California, my hero, Bobby Kennedy was giving a desperately needed victory speech .

What I loved about Bobby is that he was not prepackaged. He once said if you really, truly believed in something then you should be able to speak from your heart without reading from a script. And that he did, ever so well.

For instance, a few months earlier, on the day Martin Luther King was assassinated, Bobby spoke (against the advice of his handlers) extemporaneously to a predominately black crowd in Indianapolis —about the only major American city that did not go up in flames that awful day—and embraced their souls.

Because indeed, he had been there.

TV news was not quite as slick back in 1968. After his exuberant speech, the live cameras kept rolling. The sights and sounds of celebration went eerily quiet...and then turned to horror. As he lay dying, a 17-year-old Hispanic busboy presses a rosary into his hand.

On the early morning he was ambushed, pre-planned security protocol called for a different exit. One aid remarked that if only he had stuck to the original route…

A more seasoned assistant observed: “But how often did he change plans at the very last second and, as a result, avoided a waiting assassin?”

Death is W-A-Y too good for you

So the cowardly over-sized, under-shaved piece of crap wants to be “martyred for a long time.” Let’s hope when he finally does check out (heart attack no doubt) 3,000 angry Americans are there waiting to greet him rather than the 72 black-eyed virgins.

But NO, please don’t end his miserable existence. Let him rot in jail--with lousy food, no virgins and nothing but time: to think about that day when he slaughtered 3,000 innocent civilians (not to mention his own 19 starry-eyed pernicious pawns.)

Stein speaks

In a message dated 6/2/08 12:05:58 PM, writes:

So, you would like the town to spend the $ for a special election when if
she waits until with 90 days of the Sept primary, it can cost nothing

In a message dated 6/2/08 2:01:02 PM, Amherst AC writes:

My understanding is it will still cost money even if it is placed on the September primary ballot but just not as much as the 12-K for a stand alone election. Yes, I would much prefer it be done on the September primary ballot. But, either way: she needs to step down as of June 10'th.

In a message dated 6/3/08 9:42:11 AM, writes:

It will be a loss to the Town no matter when she steps down as she
has served the longest and remembers the background for issues that the rest of us do not have institutional memory about. That recall of issues can save us money and time.

In a message dated 6/3/08 10:12:05 AM, Amherst AC writes:

Hey Diana,

My institutional memory goes back twenty-five years. My family's goes back five generations. Her 8 years is but a drop in the bucket.

In a message dated 6/3/08 10:54:17 AM, writes:

But you haven't served on the SB during the last 8 years which is
what I was referring to. Serving sharpens one's memory about related
issues. And I have lived here since 1964.

In a message dated 6/3/08 11:07:15 AM, Amherst AC writes:

Hey Diana,

Then you can always call Bryan Harvey who served forever. The landscape is littered with folks around who have served on the SB (Judy Brooks, God forbid--Harry Brooks--or Carl Seppala, etc) who would probably be open to giving advice if asked.

What you need to now consider is the image and credibility of this office to which you have ever so recently been elected.

In a message dated 6/3/08 11:38:20 AM, writes:

Hi Larry,
I know many of the former SB members. But having someone there
while we discuss issues who brings forward relevant info from the past is very different from my calling up someone and asking. Sometimes it is not clear what questions should be asked until Anne brings up an important point.

In a message dated 6/3/08 12:56:38 PM, Amherst AC writes:

Hey Diana,
Well then I guess you will just miss her when she's gone. But get used to it--because she will be gone with the wind very soon now.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Censorship in the People's Republic

Okay, so here's a back view of next Wednesday's T-shirt for the final Amherst Town Meeting. I, of course, kept the bright red "JUST GO!" on the front (where Ms. Awad can see it clearly). (Mother) Mary Streeter sits directly behind me about a dozen rows back. Yeah, at $27 per pop this is starting to add up.

Banned in Amherst! (again)

Mary Streeter—private owner of what most people mistakingly think is the official public Amherst Town Meeting listserve—warned me on May 29 after I asked His Lordship to schedule an election to replace Selectboard partner in crime Anne Awad.

“Discussions of a person(s) will not be tolerated on this listserv. This is the only warning that will be given before removal from this group.”

And yeah, I was sorely tempted to “reply all’ with a smart ass comment thus guaranteeing my banishment from the herd. But I controlled the urge (my martial arts training) and did nothing.

Until yesterday morning, when I tried to send the listserve the Springfield Republican article about the residency fiasco embroiling Ms. Awad and husband Robie Hubley

My Yahoo account returned the following:
We are unable to deliver the message from

The email address used to send your message is not subscribed to this group.

So then I tried sending via my AOL account (figuring she’s not the very tech savvy and may not have banned both addresses) but soon received the same error code.

Looks like I’ve been given yet another “time out”. Although last time Mother Mary said it was a limited ban. This time nothing. Expelled, perhaps, forever. Banned in Amherst--the town that cherishes freedom of speech.

Funny how an exceedingly minuscule group of malcontents complain about the Amherst July 4’Th Parade banning anti-war propaganda. But here we have a deliberative, legislative body where the only thing silent is the “h” in Amherst and I’m kicked off without warning.

Well, I did get a warning…sort of. But then banning me anyway is sort of like a cop firing a warning shot--into the back of a perp’s head.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Her nose keeps growing L-O-N-G-E-R


So I just called (from my business) a publicly published Amherst phone number 256-1042—just to see if Mr. Hubley or Ms. Awad were home.

Of course I get voice mail and hang up (actually I was hoping the message would say “this number has been changed to a South Hadley number”)

About 5 minutes later my business line rings and it’s Mr. Hubley asking if I just called his number. “Hey Robie! Yeah, I was just calling to see if you were actually living in Amherst”

All-in-all the resulting “conversation” lasted about 10 minutes. Mainly consisting of Mr. Hubley yelling in a shaky voice about “leaving me alone”, or “it’s a personal matter” and “I hope you go to confession because you are an evil person”.

He refused to explain why he would purchase a $310,000 home in South Hadley while supposedly still living in an Amherst condo half that size and half that price--one that is currently up for sale.

Or why he took out a Homestead declaration on the South Hadley home that identifies it as his and her “primary” residence. Or why they lied in the Amherst Bulletin Letter to Editor saying they had switched the Homestead back to the Amherst condo.

And he sounded real nervous about potential Federal bank fraud charges over the FDIC mortgage that requires them both to live in the South Hadley home by June 10.

And any time he used the phrase “it’s a personal matter,” I would respond with “then why is this all available on a official Massachusetts state database?

At that point he yelled something slightly unintelligible and slammed down the phone.

6:55 PM: So Mr. Hubley just called me back at my personal home phone number (only available to Amherst Town Meeting members) and wanted to “apologize for losing his temper”.

Apology accepted. But when he insisted, “he was not hurting anyone” I tried to interject that he was shortchanging the voters in his precinct.

Once again he accused me of “tormenting” him and then hung up (although a tad less aggressively).
6:45 AM (original post)

So now it’s the old “residency is in the eye of the resident,” or like ‘Ultimate Frisbee’ where the players act as referees, or Hampshire College where there are no grades.

Obviously the Amherst Town Manager has been hoodwinked: “If she declares her residence (to be here). I take that to be true.”

But Ms. Awad also declared:

“The homestead declaration, cited frequently by this newspaper (Amherst Bulletin) as proof that we are already living in South Hadley, was an error on our part. We were unaware that such protection can only apply to one’s primary residence. We removed the homestead declaration as soon as we realized the error. It now applies only to our Amherst home as it has for years."

Oh really? A check this morning at the Registry of Deeds shows she has not “removed the homestead declaration” on their spacious South Hadley abode or reapplied it to their (up for sale) diminutive Amherst condo.

So Mr. Shaffer, if she can't tell the truth about the Homestead declaration--how can we the voters take anything she says to be true?

And don’t you just love His Lordship Gerry Weiss’s defense of Robie Hubley: "He goes to every meeting"? So does Frank Well’s cat!

Bad news for Pinocchio