Wednesday, October 29, 2008

AC invokes Roseannadanna's "never mind"

So let me get this strait Tony: Amherst College still has about a Billion dollars in the endowment; and you are already half-way to the $425 Million fundraising goal only announced publicly this week (the first such effort since 2001) and yet you can’t come up with a lousy $20 million to follow thru on the much hyped, eagerly awaited renovations to the esteemed Lord Jeffery Inn, an anchor business (more like the Rock of Gibraltar) for generations in the heart of downtown Amherst?

Four months ago Amherst College “donated” $120,000 to the town (after public disclosure our ambulance/fire runs the previous year cost Amherst taxpayers about that amount). And the Lord Jeff paid the town $32,000 in property taxes and perhaps that same amount in revenues from the 4% local hotel/motel lodging tax.

So this coming year (and now it looks like the next couple years as well) Amherst College will probably still require the same amount (over $100-K) of emergency services provided by AFD--only now the Lord Jeff will pay zero hotel/motel tax and will probably ask for an abatement on property taxes since the business will be generating zero income.

Meanwhile they are abandoning the playing field to the Umass Campus Center Hotel –that just announced a $9.2 million overhaul (at taxpayer expense of course) and they pay neither property taxes nor the local hotel motel tax. And they are located FAR from downtown Amherst.

All-in-all, bad for the taxpayers of Amherst, bad for downtown business, and beyond bad for the image of the #1 Liberal Arts College in America.

Gee Tony, maybe you should have had that lunch with Dave Keenan a while back—he would have told you (in a most colorful way) that this is insanity.

And could you not have at least waited until after the November 4 election to drop this bomb? Now Mr. Hayden (I would hope a highly regarded Amherst College employee) is going to take a beating on this issue probably as early as tonight at the League of Women Voters’ candidate’s night.

Mr. Morales has already played the race card, likening Aaron to “John McCain.” Now with this awful announcement they will by tying him to the College and suggesting he helped pass out diseased blanket to the darn Indians.

Hey Tony, it's okay with me if you fly that majestic American flag on Chapel High at half-staff next week when the Jeff closes.


Anonymous said...

You may be the only one I know who would complain about a $120,000 payment that is not required and $32,000 in tax revenues.

If you decided to close your business for a period of time or indefinitely, who's business would it be but yours? Nobodies.

Hayden has nothing to do with it.

You exhibit a sense of entitlement that is unbecoming for a person who believes in personal responsibility.

'bach said...

i'll complain about it...why only 120k when they have 1 billion? that sounds like amherst college is being cheap. further i would note that a.c is not just a business, it is an institution which owes amherst the reverence it deserves for being its host town for over 150 years...with all the good and all thew crap that comes with it.

they should have taken another 120k and fixed those "dangerous to drivers" crosswalks they installed on college st. a few years back. i accidentally caught air off one the other day, going the speed limit...needless to say my truck and my spine were not appreciative.

maybe that will be the next entry on my blog.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I view the $120,000 payment as for services rendered. And they should do it every damn year.

Sure, if I close the Amherst Athletic Club that indeed is my business (and my two partners).

But a LOT of people went out of their way recently to get Amherst College the Zoning change for this expansion (requiring a two-thirds vote of anti-business Amherst Town Meeting)

Anonymous said...

"Why only 120k when they have 1 billion?"

Did you say "they have 1 billion"? I thought so. So we agree it is their money and it was given by people who wanted to donate it to that college for educational purposes.

If you are voting for McCain because Obama is a socialist then you are a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

"Actually I view the $120,000 payment as for services rendered."

Unfortunately that's not the deal. Resign yourself to the fact that the college will fund joint efforts when their purposes are served too.

Didn't the college agree to pay the salary for an economic development position in town hall? Who is dragging their feet on that? Everyday we see no action on this initiative, is another day's pay wasted, a days pay at no expense to the taxpayer.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, "the deal" is whatever the Hell Amherst College says it is.

But they still cost Amherst taxpayers over $100-K per year for fire/ambulance protection.

I'm not sure if they agreed or not to fund the Economic Development position--that, unfortunately, probably all happens behind closed doors.

Amherst College is a private entity and the Town Manager is exempt from Open Meeting Law.

'bach said...

"So we agree it is their money and it was given by people who wanted to donate it to that college for educational purposes. "

i would not say every donor had such strict requirements as to where the money goes. it helps build buildings and playing fields, improve the grounds etc...those expenditures are not for direct educational benefit. just like tossing the town some well deserved cash wouldn't be either. but it would improve and maybe crystallize a spirit of brotherhood between the two entities. (or whatever yo would call that) just as some nice trees and building enhance the educational experience, so too could an attitude of comraderie improve the overall town/campus atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

As an Amherst College alum and as a taxpayer in the Town, I believe that the College should pay for the emergency services it receives from the Town, in good times and bad, as an obligation, and not like some feudal lord on the hill making a "donation" to the rest of us.

This grieves me greatly. I cherish the time that I spent at the College, four of the best years of my life.

But I resent the attitude, the patronizing, condescending attitude, that the current President takes in his very occasional remarks about the Town and its affairs. And the President's grand speeches to the College community about citizenship
ring hollow to me.

There's a difference between the Amherst Athletic Club and Amherst College, a little matter of a tax exemption.

This is a time for the College to step up, not back off. Because no matter how badly the College is doing right now on its investments, thanks to the economic policies of the past quarter century, the College and the bulk of its alums have done considerably better than the rest of the nation for a very long time.

That having been said, I don't see how any of this will or should stick to Mr. Hayden.

Rich Morse '78

Anonymous said...

I agree. The college should sign a deal like Pelham and Sunderland for fire and ambulance services.

Morty is far more generous in using Williams' financial resources to help fund public education at the regional high school - money for science labs, etc. I think it was about $200,000. Still not enough to impact the tax burden of real estate owners. These expenditures are not universally endorsed by alums by the way.

I don't know how much would be sufficient to "crystallize a spirit of brotherhood." The investment in Amherst Cinema doesn't seem to have kick-started the process.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Amherst College should contribute more to our town--because it should be a partnership and we do provide services--I am more worried about the effect of a vacant inn sitting on our Common indefinitely at this point. Amherst Cinema has been great for the town but cannot, on its own, be enough to attract new businesses.

Anonymous said...

and where will the the hotel patrons go?

hadley...just like all the other business. seems like the town is in a catch 22. can't hold a business, since there aint no other businesses.

Anonymous said...

What if anything does Aaron Hayden have to do with it? He's an employee of Amherst College. I don't remember him being appointed to the Board of Trustees last I looked. It wasn't his decision to delay the project and I don't think anyone is going to spend a second to blame it on him. You're just making stuff up.

Also, Amherst College didn't say "never mind," they said, "wait a minute." They didn't change their mind about doing the project, just the start date.

Times are tough, even for those with money. Credit is very tight right now and who knows what problems Amherst College is having financing the project. Just because they have a billion dollar endowment doesn't mean they have it in cash, or that those are even the funds being used for this project. Frankly, it's none of our business.

I do feel bad for the employees of the Lord Jeff that are laid off.

The town of Amherst however will be just fine.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah you know me, I just love to make stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Are you implying that Aaron Hayden made the decision? Had anything at all to do with the decision? If not, then what's your point? That he will be blamed for something that he had nothing to do with? The only one who seems to be pushing that idea is you.

LarryK4 said...

Well first of all I'm voting for Hayden (my wife even sent him $25); but after his recent blog posts supporting the CPA tax doubling and yesterday's "I could support an Override..." I'll have to hold my nose when I check him off.

But other than those two gaffs, he strikes me as pretty normal--as does Alisa and Stephanie, who he will be joining to form a "new majority".

I also know from reliable sources that a fellow contestant for the Select Board was going to pound away on Aaron's association with Amherst College (as a 'conflict of interest', although I don't fear that in the least since he had enough of a core to recuse himself whenever anything came before the Planning Board concerning his employer).

Unlike former Selectman Rob Kusner and Umass

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying. I am voting for Hayden because he is one of the sharpest minds and most honest people I know. Plus he plays well with others! And I don't support the CPA or overide. I do support having better people on our selectboard than the last bunch.

LarryK4 said...

No problem, clarity is my middle name (or should be these days)

Yeah, for me it is a bit of a double edged sword: I think the 'New Majority' will box out the socialistic weirdness of Weiss and his new cohort Stein, and things will improve...slightly (but not enought).

BUT,(and you just knew there was another 'but') we still need a new form of PROFESSIONAL government.

As that American Viet Nam field commander once so clearly stated: "Sometimes you have to destroy the Village in order to save it."

Anonymous said...

As that American Viet Nam field commander once so clearly stated: "Sometimes you have to destroy the Village in order to save it."

Will the purging involve violence or a metaphorical destruction?

LarryK4 said...

Hey Ms. Awad, welcome back. Yeah, it is still called a metaphor.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Lord Jeff delay has to do with the fact that a lot of college's can't access their money due to a lack of liquidity in the market.

Here's an excerpt from the Burlington Free Press talking about VT schools. It's affecting colleges all across the country.

"The national turmoil in credit and banking industries has trickled down to Vermont’s institutions of higher education.

A short-term investment fund that the University of Vermont, Middlebury College and St. Michael’s College have used to pay operating expenses was partially frozen Monday, forcing these institutions to draw on other cash sources for payroll and other needs. This fund is one of several managed by Commonfund, a firm that manages investments for colleges, universities and other nonprofits across the country.

The trustee for Commonfund’s short-term fund was Wachovia Corp., which imposed restrictions on withdrawals in the face of what its spokeswoman said was “a lack of liquidity” in the credit market."