Tuesday, June 17, 2008

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

9 comments:

anonymous said...

Civil liberties are for all Americans not just the ones you happen to agree with.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, and nobody is a BIGGER champion of Civil Liberties than the ACLU.

And they agree with me. When did you get your law degree?

anonymous said...

The ACLU agrees, it appears Town Manager Larry Shaffer is trying to use his civic authority to IMPROPERLY PREEMPT the Parade Committee's efforts to conduct an Independence Day Parade in Amherst, for the seventh consecutive year, because he and others object to the exclusion of political protest in the parade.

Who are those "others" whose cause Mr. Shaffer adopted with such vehemence that it clouded his judgment to a fundamental principle, that public policy seeks to maximize the use of public resources, not exclude certain parties because of fundamental disagreements about their position.

What Mr. Shaffer did here is petty, inexcusable, and an abuse of authority. It's a shame it took the ACLU to explain it in a way that he and the people he represents can understand it.

Want another example about Mr. Shaffer's inept policy making? Take the boy scouts. Here, the public policy was to evict the boy scouts from public land for five weeks before Christmas so that (1) they wouldn't feel "entitled" to using Kendrick Park, (2) because some other private group might want the same space, and (3) because their national organization, with whom they have very little contact, discriminates against gay boys. Here Shaffer determined that all the good done by and for the local boy scout troops and members is outweighed by these three problems, and that it is better to leave a corner of Kendrick Park unused than to allow the Boy Scouts to conduct their annual fund raiser on it.

This man, Larry Shaffer, should not be making public policy for Amherst. He should be managing town government. The Select Board should be making public policy for Amherst.

Shaffer's public policy ineptness aside, he is not elected and therefor does not have our consent to make public policy, consent given by the electoral process.

If the Town of Amherst's position on Shaffer's all day exclusive, town-financed parade is principled and justified, we can expect the Select Board to support it by vote.

If the Town of Amherst's position is petty (and therefor an abuse of power) we can expect the Select Board to reject Larry Shaffer's solution.

I propose that once again Larry Shaffer has demonstrated he is not up to the task in formulating policy - that he is incapable of synthesizing the relevant facts, factors and principles into a fair and responsible public policy.

When will the Select Board or Town Meeting take up the issue of the Town Manager's overreaching and unjustified authority to make public policy (as opposed to his job of managing town departments and resources?)

anonymous said...

"Civil liberties are for all Americans not just the ones you happen to agree with."

The "you" in this sentence refers to Mr Shaffer (and presumably Mr Weiss and Ms Awad, whose position is well known but who have not exercised it by a vote on the subject.)

It is my position that the ELECTED Select Board should vote on all public policy proposals made by the town manager before they are enacted.

Election is a fundamental process by which we bestow authority to be governed. The town manager is unelected (he is hired), has shown consistently poor judgment in creating public policy, and exceeds his authority by doing so.

The "all Americans" refers in some small part to the Parade Committee, Joy, Kelley, and others whose opinions are unpopular.

It's hard to say whether this is a tyranny of a presumed majority except for one factor, Shaffer's brazen violation of the Parade Committee's rights with his abuse of power - filing a parade application for 9am to 5pm 7/4/9.

If Shaffer were a conservative, that act alone would get him fired.

Anonymous said...

Charter, charter, charter. Too many people make town government the main focus of their life in Amherst for that to ever happen. But one can dream.

LarryK4 said...

Just received an email from John Olver that champions Civil Liberties:

"Over the coming months I will continue to defend and expand our civil liberties while seeking a proper balance between protecting national security and safeguarding our individual rights and freedoms."

Yet Congressman Olver has no problem marching in the private July 4'th Parade for all the years we have been doing it (even after the town democratic committee called for a boycott)

Anonymous said...

Defending the Boy Scouts....

Lets get it clear here -- the Boy Scout ban gays ONLY because they had a worst problem with child molesters in the late '70s and early '80s than the Catholic Church did.

In fact, NAMBLA mentioned becoming a Scout Volunteer to get access to little boytoys...

The BSA policy is simple: you can be anything you want to be - just don't go tell everyone that you are sexually attracted to guys and then expect to be welcomed alone with them. When the womens' groups start accepting heterosexual men as chaparones for young girls, then there might be an issue with the BSA policy, not before....

anonymous said...

We had a boy scout leader in Amherst who "liked" young boys. He did not violate my trust but he did violate the trust of at least one of my friends, I found out years later.

I have no objection to a policy that excludes adults who "like" young boys from being troop leaders becuase it is a policy that protects the young people, in an important and significant way, for whom the organization exists.

anonymous said...

The Boy Scout ban gays ONLY because they had a worst problem with child molesters in the late '70s and early '80s than the Catholic Church did.

In fact, NAMBLA mentioned becoming a Scout Volunteer to get access to little boytoys...

The BSA policy is simple: you can be anything you want to be - just don't go tell everyone that you are sexually attracted to guys and then expect to be welcomed alone with them.


The Boy Scouts ban "avowed homosexuals" as adult troop leaders. By "avowed" I think they mean the same thing you do:

you can be anything you want to be - just don't go tell everyone that you are sexually attracted to guys


More on their policies here.