Thursday, July 3, 2008

For whom the bell tolls

At least the Gazette is (somewhat) paying attention to this greedy (Only in) Amherst residency scam. Someone emailed me the Jpg of this morning’s article so I could post it, but the Internet connection here is now slower than customer service at a Bank of China.

But in reading the article directly at Gazettenet I was reminded that today’s 3:00 PM hearing at Town Hall is kind of like a Grand Jury indictment proceeding, in that they do not definitively decide the issue today, they simply weigh the evidence to see if there is “sufficient grounds for an investigation”—as in proceeding on to a trial.

So under those laissez-faire conditions, there is no way in Hell they can decide that Hubley/Awad are “beyond a shadow of a doubt” full-time Amherst residents with all the rights and privileges to vote and/or hold local office. Remember, OJ beat the criminal rap but lost the civil case because it only required a "preponderance of the evidence."

I will not be flying 17 hours to attend the hearing so here’s the only question I would ask each of them if they continue to insist--even under oath--that Amherst is their “primary residence.”

To Mr. Hubley: You signed a ‘Declaration of Homestead” on April 10 legally declaring 4 Jewett Lane South Hadley your “Primary residence”, were you lying then or are you lying now?

To Ms. Awad: You signed an FDIC approved mortgage on April 10 (under pains and penalties of perjury) from Florence Savings Bank with a ‘Residency Requirement’ for a home at 4 Jewett Lane South Hadley within 60 days; yet you now claim Amherst is your primary residency. Are you lying now or were you lying then?

Either way, mortgage fraud or voter residency fraud notwithstanding, it's perjury and perjury is a federal offense. And the only good thing about Amherst's system of town government is they have a bylaw banning anyone who has a Federal rap sheet.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

What - no felons allowed?

In Amherst? How so ever very insensitive.....

O'Reilly said...

Awad seeking county benefits
By Mary Carey, Staff Writer, July 04, 2008
STORY

LarryK4 said...

Thanks o'reilly. A more important story than the one I tried to upload about the hearing.

If anyone out there attended the hearing could you give us a report?

Anonymous said...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

AMHERST - The Board of Registrars has found no grounds to ask Select Board member Anne Awad and husband Robie Hubley to defend their residency and voting rights.

Registrars Harry Brooks, Gladys Rodriguez and Joyce Crouch voted unanimously that there was no need to have a further meeting on the subject, following a half hour discussion of the matter on Thursday.

It was necessary to hold the meeting and vote, because a citizen, Larry Kelley, had filed a complaint questioning whether the couple are primary residents of Amherst. Hubley and Awad have taken a mortgage and filed a Declaration of Homestead on the South Hadley home they recently purchased, proof Kelley said that it's their primary residence.

Awad announced last week that she would resign her seat effective Aug. 31, although her term ends in April, because she has been "stalked" and "harassed" by a citizen, and will eventually move to South Hadley but categorically lives in Amherst now.

Awad and Hubley attended Thursday's meeting, but as it was not the venue to make or defend their case, Town Clerk Sandra Burgess said, they did not speak until after the registrars voted. Kelley is in China, where he and his wife recently adopted a daughter, and could not attend.

As evidence for his case, Kelley has asserted that the terms of their South Hadley mortgage require that Hubley and Awad occupy the house as of June 10. But Burgess said those terms are the banks' - not state law - and not relevant to their residency in Amherst.

Hubley not only continues to own a condominium on North East Street, Burgess said, Awad owns a house on Pine Street. Even if the condominium were to sell next week, it would still not mean the pair were not residents of Amherst, Burgess said.

"There's nothing to say they're not living on Pine Street," said Burgess. Or they could be staying in a friend's spare room, the clerk said. From her perspective, Burgess said, Awad and Hubley could sleep over in the South Hadley house and spend time there. Residency is determined, in part, by where an individual says it is, she said.

Hubley thanked board members for their vote, saying that he and Awad have been "deeply hurt" and "lost a great deal of sleep over this."

"You've made the correct decision, and I thank you very much for that," Hubley said.

"Some day, I'll get my sense of humor back," Awad said.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I kinda figured an Appeal would be necessary.

And if Mr. Brooks had any integrity he would have abstained due to conflict of interest (personal friend of Awad).

The Condo is up for sale and the Pine Street house (that she got in the divorce) is leased. And I would imagine that the current renters have a lease through September if not longer.

As a spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office stated in Mary Carey's Monday Gazette article: These things usually end up in court.

Did anyone from the press think to ask under Public Documents Law for the letter Awad filed in response to my complaint?

Thanks for the update, Anon!

LarryK4 said...

PS:

Awad NEVER HAD a sense of humor.

anonymous said...

You might want to ask for the official transcript or the unofficial transcript of the half hour discussion and vote. The transcript would document their reasoning and conclusions, from which may arise a clear basis for appeal.

Take for example the opinion expressed by the town clerk that because a term in the South Hadley mortgage - that Hubley and Awad must occupy the house as of June 10 - is a private contract, it has no evidentiary value in a Board of Registrar’s hearing and can be ignored.

Of course, it has evidentiary value because it is a fact, and no one denies it (except the town clerk.) It may not be binding proof of South Hadley residency but it is a fact and as such it has evidentiary value and therefore, should be examined as an outstanding question by the Board of Registrars.

The question is whether it, as a fact, has any bearing on their residency claim and that line of question was never pursued or resolved. For example, they could have asked a direct question: If you complied with your mortgage company’s requirement to occupy the house as of June 10, has your residency in Amherst changed as a result or do you still reside in Amherst and if so, at what address?) If it was inappropriate to ask that question in this hearing, then they should have found cause to investigate their residency claim and taken it up in the next hearing.

Besides dismissing the term in the mortgage as irrelevant, they apparently chose to ignore the homestead declaration altogether, which is not a private contract but liability protection granted by the Commonwealth and available only on a person's primary residence, to which the homeowner must attest in writing and sign under penalty of perjury.

Hello!? Under penalty of perjury. Hello!? A contract with the Commonwealth.

Let's hope that anonymous or whoever wrote the comment anonymous posted in fact missed the discussion about the homestead declaration because if the Board of Registrars neglected to discuss it (and I know you raised it in your letter to them) then the Board of Registrars are NEGLIGENT and, you have your cause for appeal.

Consider appealing up to the next level because I don’t think this issue will get a fair hearing at the Amherst Board of Registrars. (I will take that back if I learn that the Board of Regents did address the issue of the Homestead Declaration citing facts and reasons that make a compelling argument that there is no cause to investigate their residency.)

Burgess also argues that there was no evidence presented that Awad and Hubley are not residents at the Amherst address on Pine Street. A simple question of Awad could have resolved that open matter. (For example: Do you reside at the property on Pine Street that you own?) But they didn’t ask. The implication is clear, this Board of Registrars will find any excuse to not question Awad and Hubley’s residency… not as long as Awad owns the Pine Street residence… even if the sell the South East Street Condo… even if they have relocated to South Hadley. Do you wonder why the questions were never asked? For example, what is the address of your residence? Is that your only residence?

It’s as if the Board of Registrars put their hands over the ears and eyes and declared “I see and hear no basis for asking Awad or Hubley about residency.” Condo for sale, so what? New home in South Hadley with mortgage that requires owner-occupied, so what? Commonwealth-granted Homestead Declaration that requires owner-occupied, So what I can’t hear you! Plus, property on Pine Street - regardless of its disposition, we wouldn’t even deign to ask Awad if that’s where she’s living because – the fact she owns it is good enough for our Board of Registrars.

It’s funny, from this article, it would seem they didn’t even look up the address Awad and Hubley have on their voter registration and ask: Is this your current address?

Why not establish at least the fact that their voter registration address is current and that it substantiates their residency claim?

The Board of Registrars had just one duty, a fair hearing on the residency question and they failed to do it.

Does anybody know what professional training is required of the town clerk and Board of Registrars?

LarryK4 said...

Good points all.

The previous Anon, simply posted the breaking news story on the Gazettenet blog by Mary Carey, so it will appear in tomorrow's print edition. She's a good reporter so if they discussed the Homestead I think the article would have mentioned it.

Hopefully they will incorporate my comments that it will be appealed.

I think the only requirement for Board of Registrars is that one has to be a Democrat and one Republican (not sure about the third one) and of course the Town Clerk (who has to worry about her job)

Anonymous said...

Checkmate....

Amherst has an ordinance that all persons leasing property register the rental with the town and pay a small fee that was supposed to (but never did) support an annual inspection of apartments in town.

If the residence on Pine Street is leased, then did she register this lease with the town? If she did, then she don't live there - if she didn't, then she is in violation of an Amherst Town Ordinance.

They arrest the college kids for violating these....

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Did this ordinance get passed while Awad was on the board?

Anonymous said...

http://www.amherstma.gov/departments/Health/Regulations_rentalregistration.pdf

RENTAL PROPERTY REGISTRATION
Purpose
The purpose of this registration is to protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens of
the Town of Amherst by ensuring safe and sanitary conditions in the stock of rental
housing in the town.
Authority
These regulations are enacted by the Town of Amherst Board of Health under the
authority of MGL C. 111 §§ 31 and 127A and any other power thereto enabling.
Scope
These regulations apply to all residential premises leased or rented within the Town of
Amherst, whether or such tenancy is pursuant to a written instrument and whether or not
such tenancy is for a fixed term or at will.
Definitions
In these regulations, the following terms have the meanings indicated:
Board – The Amherst Board of Health or its designated agent.
Dwelling – means every building or shelter including but not limited to rooming
houses and temporary housing used or intended for human habitation and every
other structure or condition located within the same lot line whose existence
causes or is likely to effect noncompliance with the provisions of 105 CMR
410.000.
Dwelling Unit – means the room or group of rooms within a dwelling used or
intended for use by one family or household for living, sleeping, cooking and
eating. Dwelling unit shall also mean a condominium unit.
Person – means an individual, corporation, trust, corporation, trust, partnership
(including general partnership, limited partnership and limited liability
partnership), and a limited liability company. In addition, any similar entity
permitted by law to hold title to real estate shall be deemed a “person.”
Premises – means any real estate used for residential premises, including but not
limited to apartments, dwellings, dwelling units, lodging houses, lodging units,
rooming houses, and rooming units.
C:\Documents and Settings\RosenblattR\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK6\RENTAL
PROPERTY REGISTRATION - adopted 6-25-03.docPage 2 of 5
Rooming House – means every dwelling or part thereof which contains one or
more rooming units in which space is let or sublet for compensation by the owner
or operator for four or more persons not within the second degree or kindred to
the person compensated.
Rooming Unit – means the room or group of rooms let to an individual or
household for use as living and sleeping quarters but not for cooking, whether or
not common facilities for cooking are made available; provided, that cooking
facilities shall not be deemed common if they can be reached only by passing
through any part of the dwelling unit or rooming unit of another.
Registration
No person shall lease or rent any premises in the Town of Amherst unless such person
first registers such premises in accordance with these Regulations. Such registration shall
be on a form or forms approved by the Board, and shall provide such information as the
Board shall deem reasonable and appropriate. Each such premises shall be registered by
October 1, 2003 and upon change of ownership and/or management of the premises.
Inspection of dwelling and room units
The Board or its designee shall conduct an inspection of a premise upon receiving a
complaint or notice alleging that its condition is in violation of any law or regulation
whether such complaint or notice is received from a tenant, town official or other third
party. The inspection shall be conducted and any order to repair shall be issued in
accordance with the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code General Administration
Procedures 105 CMR 400.000 and Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation
105 CMR 410.000. The inspector will conduct follow up inspection(s) to ascertain that
the dwelling has been brought up to code.
Fees
The registration fee shall be $10.00 per unit.
Exemption from registration fee: All units covered under state or federal programs that
require payment and that are inspected on a regular basis.
There shall be no fee for a first inspection made upon complaint as set forth above.
Should a second inspection be required to determine whether ordered repairs have been
made, no fee shall be charged for that inspection. Should a third or subsequent inspection
be required to determine compliance with an order to make repairs to the premises, the
inspection fee shall be $75.00 for each such inspection.
C:\Documents and Settings\RosenblattR\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK6\RENTAL
PROPERTY REGISTRATION - adopted 6-25-03.docPage 3 of 5
Violations
All rental properties must be registered by October 1, 2003. After October 30, 2003,
any person who rents or leases premises without registering such premises in accordance
with these regulations shall be subject to a fine. The fine shall be $10 for each month, or
part thereof, in which a unit is not registered in accordance with these regulations.
Severability
If any provision of these regulations is declared invalid or unenforceable, the other
provisions shall not be affected thereby, but shall continue in full force and effect.
Effective date
The effective date of these regulations is July 1st, 2003.

Anonymous said...

The ordinance was adopted June 25, 2003 and that would mean that she was on the SB at the time.

The only exception is that if she rented it Section 8, she doesn't have to tell the town anything -- but then there is a FEDERAL document she signed that she is NOT living in the unit. (There is a very long Sect 8 lease which includes a listing of all the persons living in the unit, which thus won't include Awad.)

And as it is currently on the town's official website, well....

Anonymous said...

the correct url
http://www.amherstma.gov/departments/Health/Regulations_rentalregistration.pdf

Anonymous said...

Well, you will have to type it in yourself because it keeps getting truncated...

http://www.amherstma.gov/
departments/Health/Regulations
_rentalregistration.pdf

This is all one line and you will need to make it one line for it to work...

Anonymous said...

You've been busy.

The results of research into whether the Pine Street property is registered as a rental unit in Amherst could punch a whole in the town clerk's argument that (and I paraphrase) For all we know, Awad is leaving at the Pine Street at address. Imagine saying that and never asking Awad to confirm that her current residence is the same as the one on her voter registration.

Also, it's a little scary because we all know that home ownership does not a residence make.

Is town clerk a hired or elected position?

Anonymous said...

leaving = living

Anonymous said...

Time for hardball....

I am thinking the Federal False Claims act.

Awad & Hubley fraudulently claimed to be living in the SoHad unit, they got a Federally-insured morgage on that and thus they are defrauding the US Govt.

And any citizen can bring a private enforcement suit for such....

Maybe you win, maybe you don't -- but someone is going to have a lot of explaining (to a US District Judge) to do.....

And can she - I doubt it....