Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 4’Th Parade: Fireworks to Fizzle?

So while I was in China (the country) elements of the Amherst 7/4 Parade Committee had lunch at Amherst Chinese (the restaurant) with the Town Manager.

And it was pretty much the same old, same old: “You folks do a great job, I really appreciate all the hard work, BUT...where in the parade can we put those pesky protesters?”

Of course at that point the Committee contemplated a Chinese government response, as in run him over with a tank; but being peace loving folks, simply reminded the Town Manager what the July 4’th Parade is all about: a gala celebration, a party to commemorate all the good things America represents.

About then, the Town Manager made it a tad more interesting, offering to save the Committee money by negating the substantial overhead cost of police security and liability insurance (currently about $1,500). Hmmm….

So on Sunday afternoon at the VFW on Main Street the full committee met among themselves to discus the offer. Responses ranged from “Tell him to go to Hell”, to “Oh, why not, they (the protesters) show up anyway, so we may as well get some reduced overhead by allowing them to march in the back.”

The committee decided more discussion is needed before taking a vote. The Town Manager has agreed to show up this Friday at the VFW to have a beer and continue the negotiation. I’ll drink to that!

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From a series of emails garnered under Public Document Law that resulted in the District Attorney’s office citing the Amherst Select Board for violation of the Open Meeting Law

From: Anne Awad Select Board Chair
Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2005 2:47 PM
To: Barry Del Castilho, Amherst Town Manager
Subject: RE: 7/4 Parade

Anne Awad: I think a SB fall town meeting article to give $2000 to LSSE to organize
a community parade is in order for next year. {sorry}

Barry L. Del Castilho: Even if that were enough money, the timing couldn't be worse: staff getting ready for pools, summer camps, outdoor sports and what
they already do for the 4th. And their part-time staff has to be cut to
make room for the camp scholarships and special needs funds that were
not funded but not cut from the needs list. Perhaps $2000 for
"co-sponsorship" i.e. the Town provides funds for expenses in return for
a seat at the decision table.

Anne Awad: LSSE IS THE LOGICAL ENTITY TO TAKE IT
ON...IF NOT THEM, SOME OTHER TOWN STAFF.

From: Anne Awad, Select Board Chair
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 8:56 PM
To: Del Castilho, Barry
Subject: RE: parade issue

Barry,
On reflection, I am going to take a step back on the parade issue. Yes,
there might be something the Select Board could initiate with the goal
of open access for community members who wish to celebrate the 4th in a
parade...but considering the priorities I have set out for this term
(budget process and committee policies), I think I need to focus on
those. The parade committee seems to have enough challenge from
community groups and residents without us jumping into it. I do not
plan to bring this to a Select Board meeting for action.

Anne Awad

9 comments:

O'Reilly said...

I'd say "yes" to to Shaffer under the following conditions:

1. the town finances 49% of the parade

2. protesters march together

3. the town cannot threaten to pull the police and firefighters from the parade, the penalty for which doubles the town's financial contribution to the parade.

4. both parties must give at least 1 year and 1 day's notice to terminate the agreement, the penalty for which financing the full cost of the parade

5. the town must appoint one person, probably the town manager, to participate in parade committee meetings ex officio to represent the interests of protesters

6. local boy scouts troops will be permitted to raise funds by selling trees on the corner of Kendrick Park for five weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas at no cost to the local boy scouts troops. Their obligation is to leave the space the way they found it.

Did I miss anything?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah.

And the town will allow the 29 commemorative flags to fly in town center on 9/11.

Anonymous said...

The thing that EVERYONE needs to understand is that if the parade becomes a public forum, it becomes a content-neutral public forum.

Along the lines of the Beverly Parade with the spewing penis and such. (See Boston Herald, 7-7-08 for that.)

The think that everyone seems to forget is that the tenured leftists may be the most vocal of protesters in Amherst, but they are not the only ones. Besides, how can you make it only Amherst when there are out-of-town folk already involved?

So you are opening this up to every nut of every stripe in the country. There are LOTS of nuts with LOTS of strange causes out there. Let me name just three that I have encountered because they wanted to advertise in the defunct UM Minuteman Newspaper (and we said that we didn't need money that badly..)

There is a Holocaust-Didn't-Happen group (whose ad the Collegian actually ran, not paying attention). I didn't quite figure out their argument but I am sure they could put it onto a board the size of the Obama sign and be generally offensive.

There is the pro-life extreme with graphic (graphic to someone who has seen car wrecks) photographs intended to shock and sicken. Imagine a half dozen of these folk marching with their color posters --- imagine the questions of small children for that matter...

There are those who believe that AIDS is "God's punishment of the sodomites" (and they actually are even *more* offensive in their un-edited statement). And that 9-11 was punishment for our tolerance of non-heterosexuals.

Now if these people have managed to find me - which isn't easy to do (because I don't *want* people like this finding me), I am sure that they can find the well-publicized Amherst Protesters-Welcome Parade.

And they are just examples - there is no shortage of bigotry and people with bigoted hateful views that they would like to promulgate. And is this what you (Mr. Schaffer, this means YOU) want to promote?

Think about this for a while.
Then think about why no *major* parade - anywhere - is sponsored by a municipality. Including the MACY's one in New York City....

Ed Cutting

Anonymous said...

And they can be obscene too...

See _Cohen v. California_, "F*** the Draft" is Constitutionally protected speech even though "there were women and children present" in the courthouse. Carlin couldn't use those seven words on TV but he COULD march through downtown Amherst with them on signs should he (or anyone) desire were there to be a content-neutral parade.

I really don't think that our dear Mr. Schaffer understands the consequences of the precedent he wishes to set.

Ed Cutting

O'Reilly said...

Ed makes some good points.

Maybe the Parade Committee will reject Larry Shaffer's offer regardless of the incentives for the reasons Ed states.

If they do not reject the offer however, they would be well advised to labor over the terms in advance of making an agreement. Larry, would you consider doing another post to solicit input from the community on considerations to be negotiated?

LarryK4 said...

Oh, you can be sure I will do another post or two on the 7/4 Parade in the near future.

I have only talked (as in really talked: on the phone or in person) to three people--all of them $ contributers to the parade and virtually all of them said if we take the deal they will NOT contribute next year (and one of the three was my wife. Yikes!)

Anonymous said...

And I still say "NO DEAL"!!!

Nancy

O'Reilly said...

How many people on the Parade Committee?

Anonymous said...

Is the friday meeting open to the public (or at least those friendly to the committee)?