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.

43 comments:

maryd said...

This is very interresting to watch it and read it at the same time.
How on earth are you staying so quiet???

LarryK4 said...

Biting my tongue!

Robert said...

It seems to me that Alisa has made the most sense on this discussion tonight. If the "protestors" want to have an open parade, let them do it on their own. Any money spent by the town on a parade (and there will be time and money spent no matter what they say) can be better spent on schools, public saftey, DPW etc. and if they try to fund a town parade I can say right now that I will stand up and make an amendment to take away the funding and re-allocate it to a better purpose.

maryd said...

I couldn't hear well, what was Ms. Brewer's comment about the town managers "evaluation?"
Her mike doesn't work well.

Also, the debate about Ms. O'Keefe marching is crazy.

LarryK4 said...

She was suggesting they could fire him so he damn well better pay attention to their "sense" of something.

a noon - e - mouse said...

Thank you for live-blogging the meeting. I'd say that Ms. Brewer and Ms. O'Keeffe were extraordinarily effective, and that Mr. Weiss was in agreement with (or compelled by) their arguments but most importantly, Mr. Weiss was pivotal in deciding the "sense of the board." Kudos to Mr. Weiss. Your well-timed motion framed the question effectively and you deserve lot of credit too.

Every tense situation provides comic relief and that was the case here when Mr. Shaffer told Mr. Weiss "You're not the boss of me!" As we know, the facts are to the contrary, Mr Weiss IS the boss of Mr. Shaffer.

Mr. Shaffer's assertion demands some reflection. He obviously feels as though the issue is being taken from his control. File it under frame of mind. I think Mr Shaffer is not sympathetic to Brewer's, O'Keefe's, Weiss' and Kelley's arguments. In fact, I think its personal for Mr. Shaffer now and it may be clouding his judgment. Just a smidgen of perspective reveals there is no way a reasonable Select Board could tolerate his exclusive 9 to 5 parade policy. It was a tactic that was destined to explode in his face. You saw, I saw it, the ACLU saw it, Brewer, O'Keefe and Weiss saw it too. It was an untenable argument but I don’t think Mr. Shaffer recognizes it. Public officials cannot use their power to coerce compromise. Maybe, in his role as supervisor, Mr Weiss can help Mr Shaffer understand that issue from the other side. I have no doubt Mr Shaffer considers his a principled decision. I don't think he's being au contraire, just sincere and committed to doing the right thing.

The Parade Committee's decision to abstain from the meeting was a good one. It was a no win situation for the powerless Parade Committee to appear and argue their case with the Select Board and Town Manager. It would have put the Parade Committee on the stand as defendant and the Select Board and Town Manager as prosecutor, judge and jury. The issues were already well known; it was time for public deliberation by the public policy board and a decision. Kudos to the Select Board for a decision. I have to hand it to Brewer for framing the issues, O'Keeffe for her steady leadership, and Mr Weiss for his decision and vote in the "sense of the board."

Anonymous said...

something is wrong with this photo. The people weren't sitting where they are shown here - Alicia was at the end.

Or am I truly loosing my mind?

Anonymous said...

The Parade Committee blew it big time by not showing up tonight.With at least one Springfield television outlet and two newspapers there to cover the story, they had a chance to articulate their views and their vision to a wider audience than just the Select Board, which now blessedly has some sympathetic members.

I went there tonight specifically to listen to them, and they tanked by not showing up, and they are consequently giving up the high ground, the common ground with the quiet majority in town. It's not easy to do, but it can be done: you have to "talk Amherst" to Amherst. Instead, they passed.

What a foolish public relations blunder from people who have clearly worked so hard.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

Alisa showed up a tad late I took that photo at about 6:50 when I first arrived.

Thanks for your supportive speech Mr. Morse (and Terry Franklin and Ed Cutting). The Parade Committee had nothing knew to say and let folks like you say it for them.

maryd said...

I think it was a great move for the committee to stay out of it for a night. Folks keep saying it is "their" parade and it was good to hear others fight in favor of it. Sorry to see the vehicles go but you know they'll still march, just not in their town owned uniforms of course.

Anonymous said...

Let the record show that this blog did NOT endorse Stephanie O'Keeffe for Select Board.

Try to imagine last night's Select Board discussion without her, with, say, her predecessors on the Board involved, including this blog's endorsed incumbent. It would have been awful.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

This blog is a matter of public record.

And long-time readers know full well I did not endorse her.

Although I DID endorse Alisa Brewer last year and she did every bit as much as Stephanie last night (and over the previous two months)

Anonymous said...

My concern about the town equipment:

Now that it has become an issue, I think the town ought to have a policy on the detail use of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances.

As many may (or may not) know, one can hire "paid details" of police/fire personnel and often is *required* to do so by law. If you have a hot tar kettle for a roofing job, you have to hire a firefighter - Amherst being one of the few towns that actually enforce that.

"Road jobs" are the most visible example of this, and if you are going to rip up the road or cut down trees over the road, you have to hire one or more officers to direct traffic and while you just pay a specific hourly rate per officer (with a minimum), it includes whatever the police think they need to send along with the detail. This usually includes a police car if they have one to spare...

I suspect that the same thing applies to ambulances - I haven't planned anything big enough to need one but I have heard of having to pay for an EMS detail which would, of course, include equipment as they saw fit.

My concern -- there may be a legitimate police reason to want a police car at both ends of the parade. There may be a legitimate reason for an ambulance to be at the end of the parade (particularly if the day is hot/humid).

Some towns, with big parades (far bigger than the Amherst one) have a fire truck at each end in hopes that one of those trucks would be in a location to quickly divert to any location in town at any time if needed and if the ones in the station are blocked by traffic/crowds.

And either you trust your police/fire chiefs or you don't - and if you do, you trust them as to what is and isn't the legitimate detail use of their people and equipment. And you have policies which hopefully reflect public interests.

And thus the potential unanticipated consequences of a blanket ban on town trucks in any private parade. There well may be a very real public safety rationale for having them - and the fair thing thus to do would be to charge the sponsors for them, just like the paid personnel are charged.

Ed Cutting

a noon - e - mouse said...

I too was unsure about how Stephanie O'Keeffe's candidacy for Select Board. My principle concern was that her communications skills were her best asset and her analysis and decision making skills were not so well developed. Noy was I wrong. I didn't know Stephanie O'Keeffe. She is an excellent Select Board member. Whatever she chooses, whether to run again or to do something else, she has my support. Of course, I hope she likes the office and chooses to run again. Ms Brewer and yes Mr Weiss deserve a lot of credit for their work last night too.

Anonymous said...

I too misjudged Stephanie O'Keeffe -- it is as easy to misjudge a woman who speaks well as to misjudge a man who physically strong -- in some cases there is more there than one might expect, a depth far beyond what would anticipate.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, Stephanie for Mayor! (as long as she continues to call Amherst home)

Equal Protection under the law said...

Will the Town of Amherst neglect or support the Parade Committee’s 1st Amendment Right of Association on 7/4/8, by establishing as town policy, on authority of the Federal and State Constitutions' Equal Protection clause, the following:

1. protesters are not invited to march in the parade

2. protesters who violate rule 1 will be asked to leave the parade

3. protesters who refuse to leave the parade will be escorted out of the parade by town police

4. protesters who resist escort by town police will be arrested for civil disobedience

or, should the Parade Committee hire police on detail to enforce their rules, which are their right to have and maintain.

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