Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Alamo


UPDATE: 5:02 PM. Just received my emergency phone call from the Town Manager saying all is fine with Amherst water. Hey, the system works. I'll drink to that!


UPDATE: 4:50 PM. It's all good. Drink the water! Of course now students will have to come up with another excuse for consuming only beer over the next 48 hours.

UPDATE: 4:25 PM. Still no word. This is not good. Could we maybe have offered the test lab pizza and beer if they got us the test results by noon? Everybody--Town Manager, DPW chief, water/sewer chief and a bevy of underlings are still hunkered down in the DPW office.


1:25 PM (Still no word).

Trolley Station, turned DPW, turned War Room.

Water update 12:51

No, we don't have the results yet. Town Manager Larry Shaffer just arrived at the DPW office and they are hunkered down awaiting the results. The emergency phone system will kick in either way to spread the news: good or bad. Let's hope it's good.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Houston, we have a problem...


Friday 4:00 PM Click to enlarge

Smoking zone


Well, actually I think it's just steam from testing of the new Power Plant; sure makes enough of the white stuff. And they are still using Amherst effluent water in the production process, so you may not want to breath in those clouds directly. Last year Umass paid the water/sewer fund $38,000 for the superdiscounted effluent. This year they used roughly the same amount but paid zero. Side benefit of the 'Strategic Agreement'.

video

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We are the world


My esteemed fellow Amherst Town Meeting members will love this:

Yesterday morning my overworked wife performed an international live lecture presentation over the Internet to about 100 academics concerning research techniques used in entrepreneurship from our little home nestled in the People’s Republic of Amherst.

The GEM Project (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor), a joint collaboration between Babson College, the London Business School and "teams" from numerous other countries, collects economic data worldwide and uses it to measure the role entrepreneurship plays in a country’s economic growth.

And like the recent sports spectacle in China, this academic pursuit transcends political bounds—as indeed it should.

Donna’s enthusiastic audience was located at the University of Tehran, in the People’s Republic of Iran. (Yeah, I half jokingly asked if she had cleared this with the State Department or Homeland Security.)

University of Tehran website reports

Some of you may remember one of the more recent “Only in Amherst “ episodes where our Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved a resolution declaring the US should never attack Iran. In response we received a “thank you” from their ambassador.

I’m so glad this Boston TV Channel 4 has bandwidth to burn, so you can still see this upload from January 2007. Kind of ironic to see then Selectman Robie Hubley (now absconded to South Hadley) use the term “Democratic Republic of Amherst”. Yikes!

Channel 4 reports

Perhaps even more ironic, the “thank you” is dated December 7 and has the subheading “In the Name of the Almighty.” Double Yikes!

EMBASSY OF PAKISTAN
INTERESTS SECTION OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
2209 Wisconsin Avenue N.W. Washington, D.C. 20007
Tel: (202) 965-4990 Fax (202) 965-1073 www.daftar.org

In the Name of the Almighty

December 7, 2006

Ms. Sandra J. Burgess
Amherst Town Clerk
4 Boltwood Ave.
Amherst, MA 01002

Dear Ms. Burgess:

We would like to express our appreciation for the courageous stance of the participants of the Amherst Town Meeting in urging diplomacy with Iran and expressing opposition to any U.S. military action against our country. Your letter along with the attachments was submitted to the office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Upon receipt of any response, this office will notify you accordingly. The staff of this office would be more than happy to respond to any questions you might have.

Sincerely,

A. Mohzabadi
for Mostafa Rahmani
Director

The Amherst Bulletin Reports


International Media reports this "weird" story


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Can government compete fairly?


UPDATE: 3:30 PM: I have only been doing PR for 25 years but does anybody else find it odd that Umass News Info Department (that I believe has three full-time spinmeisters and a Department Manager) only puts out the press release about the $9.2 million renovation project on the very day construction starts?

Hmmm….
What the Umass flacks wrote


(Original Post 6:00 AM) So Umass can spend $9.2 million tax dollars to better hustle for costumers private dollars? Unlike the Campus Center Hotel, those new and modern hotels that have popped up along Route 9, courtesy of Hampshire Hospitality Group, pay property taxes to the host town.

And in the People’s Republic of Amherst, if you simply construct a commercial enterprise valued at $9 million it would pay Amherst $135,000 annually in property tax plus the 4% Local Option Room Occupancy Tax on gross annual revenues.

Simply being owned by a tax-exempt does not necessarily keep the business off the tax rolls. Take Amherst College for instance: they own the apparently only profitable golf business in town, Amherst Golf Course, and pay Amherst the normal $7,000 per year in tax that a private, for-profit owner would pay.

And they own the historic Lord Jeffery Inn that not only pays property taxes ($32,000) but also honors the local room tax. They too are feeling the pressure from new modern hotels along Rout 9--as evidenced by their upcoming $20 million expansion--but at least they compete on a level playing field...well sort of, having over a billion in reserves is a tiny advantage.

Back in 2003 a ‘Special Committee to Recommend Mitigation for Local Aid Cuts’, chaired by State Senator Stan Rosenberg, an indefatigable Umass supporter clearly stated:

“Eliminate UMASS Amherst Campus Center's exemption from hotel motel tax (that tax doesn't cost the state anything, doesn't cost the university anything, shouldn't be an edge in competition against local hotels / motels). This could be a significant ($70,000+) help to Amherst.”

Since the Town Manager was already taken to the cleaners by Umass with their ‘Strategic Agreement’, The Select Board should appoint a “Blue Ribbon Committee” (better yet, an Attack Dog) to pursue this potential pot of tax gold.

Springfield Republican Reports (scooping the Gazette)

Monday, August 25, 2008

So we beat on...

UPDATE: 7:25 PM Okay, this video is a tiny bit raw, I may edit it tomorrow, but wanted to get it up ASAP

video



(Original Post 6:30 AM) So coincidentally enough—this being the first Select Board meeting since Anne Awad resigned—I will be going before the four she left behind tonight to ask at the getting more and more popular 6:30 Question Period as I have done every late August since the world changed, that the 29 commemorative flags be allowed to fly in the downtown on 9/11.

Or maybe I’ll ask (as an insider suggested) for them to put it on the 9/8 SB agenda for a fuller public discussion.


Can you imagine even having to discuss flying American flags to honor the 3,000 Americans we lost on 9/11? Only in Amherst.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Economic development, eh?


So you will notice the "coming soon" part of the banner is pretty weathered--as in having been up in the New England sun for over three months. I actually took this photo a month ago when I covered Pizza Rama calling it quits after 39 years. And the banner has been down for the past two weeks, although I'm told by a reliable source they will open in September.

You would think going from a Fish Market that served food (Take out and Delivery) to a Latino Market (Take out and Delivery) is a turnkey endeavor. But NOOOoooo, not in Amherst!

Here we have the Planning Board pumping molasses in front of any Good Ship trying to navigate the waters to opening, and building inspection folks delaying reopenings.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

His Lordship Lies, and Libels

video
UPDATE: (7:00 PM) Hey they finally went cyber. Here's the link:
Weiss backs down
(9:45 AM) “Surprised to learn” that an educated community like Amherst believes in Free Speech? Just goes to show how clueless Mr. Weiss is with the First Amendment (and we know he has problems with the Open Meeting Law as well.)

“Some members of the press construed”? Hmmm. The Gazette or Bully did not editorially come to my First Amendment defense (as they should have.) . And indeed only two weeks later His Lordship was going after the Bulletin for an editorial about Planning Board slackers.

“Obsessive following”? One time is obsessive? And “contacting”. Again, I called their publicly published number once to see if it was still in service and when Hubley’s voice mail picked up, I hung up. Then Mr. Hubley called me back at my business and after losing his cool and slamming down his phone called me back an hour later at my home (with an unpublished number). So that is two phone calls to my one. Now who’s doing the stalking?

And yes the state does have laws already in place for stalking and harassment or threats of physical violence-- and we do know Ms Awad contacted the police. Since they never, in turn, contacted me in any shape manner of form it goes to show how laughable her case was.

And No Mr. Weiss there is no Chapter 256, Section 43-A you meant Chapter 265 (getting dyslectic in your old age?)

The Law (don’t mess with it!)

Bully for them

UPDATE: (1:30 PM). The Bully is out (print edition anyway). They used a different photo, but still huggy-huggy

(6:30 AM) Hard to believe it's already prediction Thursday; easy to predict what makes the Bully Front Page. Obviously the Select Board was in session Monday with ‘His Lordship’ presiding--so there’s your source for a lead article or two.

But will it be the “Handful of folks say goodbye to X-Czar Awad” story or the “Drop dead Kelley resolution from SB canned?” Hmmm…Since Mr. Weiss also took a public swipe at the Bully for daring to criticize by name those poor overworked Planning Board volunteers, the latter could get higher placement.

Nah, the Bully is too nice. So they will go with the ‘Buy buy Awad’ article with ‘His Lordship backs down’ a close second (but both above the fold)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chill, Chide, Chump


His Lordship finally figured out that he does not want to make little old me a martyr to the First Amendment (plus I don’t die easily). Hey, at least now I’m thrown in with the venerable Amherst Bulletin. How dare they name names of overworked volunteer members of PUBLIC boards and committees!

The problem with crafting an official resolution thinly directed at one individual is that in this particular case it stands no chance of working. Plus, now that he’s lost his partner in crime Anne Awad (as far as the Open Meeting Law is concerned) he will have a harder time getting fellow board members to act as a rubber stamp.

That should have a “chilling effect” on his ideological nonsense.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

End of story


UPDATE: 5:00 PM. So I'm still waiting to get video of the actual Select Board meeting (that I'm told started 10 minutes late because of the festivities) but Mary Carey uploaded video of the 5:30 reception for the outgoing X-Czar. Loved the verybrief snippet of her blaming "blogs" for her downfall. If you look in the mirror one morning and see a wart or juicy zit, don't blame the mirror.

Check out Ms. Carey's video (although it's kind of a delayed lead to get to them) Take note of Rob Kusner saying "I was recruited a year after she was elected to join her on the Select board..."

(original post: early this morning) Yeah, the Gazette sent a photographer to a Select board meeting for the first time in ages, and since they could not get any bang-bang they settled for huggy huggy. Of course the ironic thing is the photo shows long time (although recently mute) activist Alan Root giving Awad a goodbye hug.

Some of you may remember Mr. Root composed a “toxic” personal email to then Select board member Dolly Jolly who—as a result—decided not to seek reelection in 2004, calling the episode “creepy”. And paving the way for Awad pawn, His Lordship Gerry Weiss.

Naturally the speeches were about Amherst becoming more civil--in other words, shut Larry Kelley up. Okay fine I can take a hint. That’s it! I’m moving to South Hadley. They're in line for $2 million in state money for a wading pool and they have a much BIGGER municipal golf course.

Springfield Republican Reports

Monday, August 18, 2008

Going, going...


(8:15 PM)
No, I did not attend Anne Awad's going away party at 5:30 PM (note invite's prime location on the town website) I had to teach karate at 5:00 and a Spin Class at 5:30. Otherwise I probably would have gone, camera and computer in hand, to cover it.

The Gazette probably sent a reporter and photographer hoping I would crash the party and do something, errrr, interesting. Front line journalists call it "bang-bang."

Let's hope somebody asked Mr. Hubley if he tendered his Town Meeting resignation.

A positive outcome

(4:30 PM) My faith in American Health care is only reaffirmed. The two Cooley Dickinson lab techs that drew blood from Jada (five vials for now with perhaps five more on Wednesday) were kind, considerate and caring—as well as efficient with a needle.

The X-ray technician, our next stop, was amazed Jada didn’t freak out when we put her in the plastic restrainer with me dressed in a lead lined gown holding her arms strait up overhead. She told me to call my Doctor’s office before the end of the day for the test results because I had told her earlier about the possibility of TB warranting the photoshoot.

A few moment s later she followed me down the hall and said, “She’s fine, the x-ray is negative. I just wanted you to know.”

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Only in America

Cute picture, great caption


Although a city, the annual Westfield Fair (81 years now and counting) has that unmistakable small town feel—the sights, sounds and smells of working America. And when it comes to working hard, they don’t come any more dedicated than our local farmers.

Westfield is still known as the “Whip City” because during the 1800’s it lead the world in manufacturing buggy whips. So a weekend fair with tractor and horse pulls, cows in competition, judged entries of fruits and vegetables, fattening fried food, and aging amusement rides seems perfectly fitting.

Kira rides a raindeer
Jada's first real horseride



Oh yeah, this would be banned in Amherst

video

What you lookin at

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Otherwise a beautiful day


So I knew something was not quite right when the friendly, professional nurse at Northampton Area Pediatrics for a very brief moment telegraphed a look of concern. She picked up the phone and said, “I want the Doctor to look at this.” Hey, it’s Saturday afternoon--so not only am I glad they’re open but even more so they have a doctor available.

It was one of those routine test procedures where you just drop in and let somebody have a quick look at the skin test for the results. But the disease in question is far from routine. TB was a frightening killer for my parent and grandparent’s generation, but something I never thought about...until just now.

We sat in a waiting room, my baby daughter and I, and the medical office that was bustling two days ago when they injected Jada with the TB test serum was now all but empty. Another nurse walks by--the one who did the injection on Thursday morning--and she comes in to banter with Jada.

I ask her to look at the reaction site. She does. Another look of concern. “Best to have the Doctor give you an opinion,” she says.

Ten minutes later the doctor enters the room. He gently holds Jada’s forearm as she starts to cry. He takes an ink pen and makes lines at all four side of the rounded injection site that resembles a mosquito bite, so it now resembles a sniper scope. “It’s a bit elevated”, he says “Not enough for a positive result but enough so it is not a negative result.”

In China it’s not uncommon for the government to use a TB inoculation serum on the abandoned babies that is fairly ineffective, but will give false positive results when the individual is tested in the US.

Such is my hope.

What a difference a day makes!

Awad send-off set for Monday
By Scott Merzbach
Staff Writer
Published on August 15, 2008

In June, Awad submitted her resignation from the board effective Aug. 31. Though she has purchased a home in South Hadley and put her North East Terrace condominium up for sale, Awad said her retirement and resignation from the board was prompted by stalking and threats from an Amherst resident.


Reception planned Monday for Awad
By THE DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE
Staff Writer
Saturday, August 16, 2008

Awad submitted her retirement and resignation letter in June, citing stalking and threats from an Amherst resident that occurred after she and husband Robie Hubley purchased a home in South Hadley.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rainbow over The People's Republic

Back in the saddle (about time!)


The Town Manager has made the leap into the blogosphere. Look out folks! Left this comment on his blog (he also uses blogger), but he enabled "moderation" so we will see how long it takes for him to allow or censor it.

UPDATE: 3:45 PM. So the comment was published. Touche! I'm always impressed when a highly paid bureaucrat is in their office on a somewhat nice summer friday afteroon, Although...since he did not respond maybe it was simply one of those low-paid town workers who have to stay at their desks until 4:30 or so. Hmmm...


(comment submitted around 3:00 pm)

Yes, indeed Mr. Shaffer—welcome to the Big Bad Blogosphere! Just remember it ‘s still to a tad like the Wild, Wild West (remember that great TV show?) So brace yourself for a few elbows under the net --to use a basketball metaphor rather than military one. You don’t need to create a hot link to the town web site in the first paragraph since folks have found you via that entry page. And the blogosphere is a 24/7 up to the nanosecond kind of place, so if you are publishing on a Friday August 15 the post probably should not be dated Tuesday August 12. PS: I’m glad your I.T. folks used Blogger. Simple and free—can’t get any better than that!

Inept government with a nice website

Well, it's about time.


So what do you know, Mr. Sanchez understands the concerns of a decorated, legit Iraq war veteran who shed blood for his country.

And what else do you know: the crusty Gazette has been sitting on this story for six weeks.

Would have been a tad more effective if Mr. Sanchez apologized to Rob McAllister in particular and in general the July 4'th Parade Committee. Although I'm glad the Gazette layout editor gave this long overdue mea culpa top billing and relegated Mr. Sanchez's fundraiser this evening on the town common to a less prominent position.

What took them so long?


Calvin's and Hobbes take

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Run it up the flag pole and see who salutes

UPDATE: 9:00 PM: Well, the crusty Bully finally went cyber, so here's my Letter:
If you can't take the heat...
So it’s prognostication Thursday morning: What will the Bully reprint this week from the Daily Hampshire Gazette—especially on the Front Page?

Well, this week has been soooooo boring I can’t safely predict the 'Above The Fold' Page One lead story (maybe they will do some original reporting for a change). But I can safely predict my written response to last week’s column. Yeah I know, only Larry Kelley would demand the right to respond to a column that defended him.

Since Mr. Morse is a faithful reader of this blog (although last year he told people to boycott it because it feeds my ego) let me again repeat that I appreciate him taking the time to defend my First Amendment rights in the Awad residency scandal as well as the rights of the July 4’th Parade Committee to limit protest signs.

But he crossed a most sacred line when he brands my public pronouncement seven years ago (and continue to this day) on the infamous ‘Only in Amherst’ flag flap as being a “prior wrong.”

A prosecutor turns public defender


My buddy "Icky" gets off the first column

A story about one of the infamous flags

Jennie Traschen speaks

All these years later, and they still do not get it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hoist the Colors!

UPDATE: High-Noon 8/14/08. File this under "what a difference a day makes." (See bottom photo.) The Jolly Roger is gone--but they did not replace it with the American flag either. Somewhat understandable for the People's Republic of Amherst to have a shortage of American flags.

(Original Post 8/13/08 High-Noon) So Amherst is one of a handful of communities nationwide to fly the UN flag in front of Town Hall, the only community in the nation to disallow American flags in the downtown to commemorate 9/11 and now the High School is flying the Jolly Roger in place of Old Glory. Only in Amherst!
Of the two, I much prefer the Jolly Roger!
Damn, now if we can just get rid of that UN flag (it's looking a tad weathered for sure)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Now THAT is worth partying over!

video

So the X-Czar, finally, slouches off into the sunset! Over The Notch and through the woods to South Hadley she goes (actually she's been there for the past three months).

Let's hope she takes her dapper husband Robie Hubley with her. Maybe now he can resign his AMHERST Town Meeting position???

Let the race begin (2 more take out papers)

Republican news article

Yeah, and I’m sure the Chicken Little Select Board will point to this and say their 3-2 last-second Gerrymandering was worth it, because now we will have a more competitive election.

Obviously neither of these two new candidates (AARP demographic) served in the Iraq War; and the Select Board went out of their way to champion just such a candidate.

I also hear from reliable sources that Isaac BenEzra is trying to garner behind the scenes support for Ms. Awad’s seat as well. So I guess that premeditated attack on me a few weeks ago at the Select Board meeting was his campaign kick off.

Since Ms Awad installed him as the J. Edgar Hoover King of ACTV maybe he’s doing it out of loyalty to the X-Czar. Or maybe he just never met a soapbox he did not relish.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A letter from the President (ours)

Click to enlarge

Thank you Mr. President!

One of the good things about raising two Chinese-born, All-American-girls in the People’s Republic of Amherst is there's never a shortage of “Americans behaving badly” to cite as examples of how not to act.

But Amherst is also full of positive role models--who cherish and defend the American freedoms so very many take for granted.

He Ping.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vermont Outing

Quechee Gorge

Lake Memphremagog

Kira's beloved Donkeys Arlington, Vermont

What you lookin at?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Both People's Republic Shine Tonight

Beijing can boast about their ultra-expensive, high-tech Olympic grand opening ceremony this evening but the People’s Republic of Amherst also played host to an Olympic Torch with 100 local law enforcement personnel as escort who ran in unison from the Amherst Police station to the Umass Mullins Center to benefit Special Olympics Massachusetts covering a distance of three miles, chanting all along the way.

And the best part? No protesters!
video

Back to Awad

UPDATE: 4:00 PM
Just found this on “National Review” online by Byron York about the John Edwards scandal that the Bricks and Mortar media is just now, grudgingly, reporting (sex, lies, and your freaken wife has cancer you asshole!) and thought it somewhat parallels my journalistic expose of Ms. Awad taking a hike to South Hadley but still wanting to rule in the People’s Republic of Amherst.


Instead, some big-time journalists seem to believe the Enquirer has nailed the story, and they are waiting for the tabloid to release the full results of its reporting. In the meantime, they are staying away from the story because it appeared in the Enquirer. In other words, they’re waiting for the Enquirer to fully report a story that they wouldn’t otherwise report… because it’s in the Enquirer.

Starving artist indeed


I was in the North Amherst area at high noon so I did a "drive by" to the auction of artist John Sendelbach's quaint home located next to "The Harp" Irish bar (damn, if I did not already have a home in South Amherst you can't beat that location.)

"Mr. Sendelbach--who previously did public art for Amherst--blames his economic woes on the Amherst 250 Anniversary Celebration Committee, suggesting they led him along and had him do 150 hours of unpaid design development for an art project in town center and then blew him off.

UPDATE: 2:35 PM
So I biked back to get a better picture. When I did the drive by (and did not stop because my young daughter was in the back seat) that stupid car got in the way and blocked the American flag.
UPDATE: 2:45 PM
So I could tell by my sitemeter I suddenly got a bunch of hits from an Ebay discussion site (I'm a former Ebay Powerseller but never used them). Traced the hits and found this from Mr. Sendelbach:

success can be measured on many levels...including successfully squeeking by...the sale went down, a nice couple got it, turns out we share certain circles of friends.

the bank got what they need and probably won't come for more, which is not much...so i am free.

the new owners are being very cool and letting me take my time moving.

forward we go...thank you all for being so kind and generous with your thoughts.

Then what will you protest?

UPDATE: 2:30 PM. The anti-war sign is already gone as I just biked by. I didn't do it...honest (although Mr. Weiss will probably contact Amherst PD to try to have me arrested)

9:30 AM (Original post)

Since His Lordship spanked the DPW for retrieving PC signs from town property last Fall it’s a safe bet this anti-war sign will stay in town center until it turns to dust (which should not be too long since it’s plain copy paper).

Although…the juxtaposition with the Red Cross sandwich board sign is thought provoking.

I have said many times that if I were President we would not have gone into Iraq; I should also state that if I inherited the mess a couple years ago I would have strongly supported “the surge”. And that now seems to have worked.

His Lordship's front lawn last winter:


And yeah, I biked by about an hour ago and it's still there.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mid afternoon updates

(3:30 PM) I'm sitting here in the middle of yet another thunderstorm and the sun is out so I'm hoping for a rainbow. Who doesn't like rainbows?

I was pulled over by Amherst PD about an hour ago for a minor auto thing and they were as professional as could be (as always). Oddly enough, I was in town center to use the free wireless. I love the idea that I can lance the boil known as Amherst Town Government while using their very own assets.

Gotta check out Select Person Stephanie's blog Comments (scroll way down) His Lordship Chair Gerry Weiss gives her a directive via the 'Comments' feature to post a long ago legal document, figuring it would somehow bolster his case for delaying the election to replace X-Czar Awad. Gotta wonder if he actually read the brief. But it is kinda fun to call him a "ninny" on a blog operated by his subordinate.

Only in Amherst!

Misty Mountain

9:15 AM


An hour later:

Bully watch (No, not His Lordship)

10:45 AM. Okay I called it, again. Town Manager must have bought the editor a beer for that silly headline. Gotta wonder how they went from “Long Trek Expected In Effort To Merge Parades” to the optimistic, syrupy (Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow) headline “Parade Unity Possible”?

(6:38 AM) At the July 28 Select Board meeting His Lordship Mr. Weiss made the news by attempting to scold me for “driving” Ms Awad to South Hadley (even though she drove herself—or maybe Mr. Hubley drove her—way back in April). Chairman Weiss even went so far as to scold the media for giving me ink on this residency debacle. So it all made good copy in the next weekly Amherst Bulletin

This past Monday our illustrious Select Board did not meet, one of only about a dozen Monday’s of the year that happens. And as a result, no opportunity for those priceless ‘Only In Amherst’ news nuggets.

So then, what will the Bully put on the Front Page later today? Well, the July 4’Th Parade article in yesterday’s Gazette was really nothing new thus you can tell they like the story. Hmmm…could be the lead story. Let’s call it a “contenda.”

The Zoning Board of Appeals failed to vote on Scott Nielson’s much maligned, NIMBY-magnet development on South East Street, down from 24 units to 17. So that would have been a guaranteed above-the-fold story (and will be soon).

The Regional School Committee met Tuesday but nothing much seemed to happen (maybe Ms. Sanderson will revive her blog to let us know).

I’m actually surprised a certain twitchy Committee member did not use the 'Public Comment' opportunity to lambaste the Pioneer Valley Chinese Charter School for daring to win that $1.5 million Federal Education grant (last week's front page).

Maybe because PVCIC was the ONLY Charter School in the nation to be so honored, he thought better of it.

Okay, I’ll go with the July 4’Th Parade update.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Surrender, by any other name...


What with the new baby and all, I completely forgot to cover the July 4?Th Parade Committee meeting last Friday at the VFW. The headline in today’s Gazette indicates that the Committee made no decision on the Town Manager’s offer/bribe to provide insurance and police security for free (about 10% total overhead) in exchange for allowing protesters.

If I were still a committee member resignation post my immediate response would be --excuse the military metaphor--“NUTS!” Especially after I found out on my return from China about the despicable display of non-veteran protesters infiltrating behind the “Iraq Veterans Against The War” banner.

Would the town really run its own July 4TH Parade next year (and would any spectators come?) if the private Committee sticks to their guns? Hell no!

The Town Manager, at ACLU urging, already backed off his April 23 declaration that the private committee could not hold a July 4th parade on July 4 so when the ACLU also threatens a federal lawsuit for not giving them the time slot held for seven straight years he will also cave.

And we saw most recently how lawsuit-shy the Select Board is even after the BIG CITY town attorney told them they had nothing to worry about over scheduling the election to replace X-Czar Awad on September 16 thus disenfranchising Umass students from running for the office.

Yesterday’s Republican article suggests the town’s 250 Anniversary Parade is in trouble. Chairman Barry Roberts candidly admits they “ can use a lot of help and money with the parade.” Well maybe they ought to solicit the protesters at $500 per placard.

And if the town is now struggling with this once in 250 years Parade how are they going to deal with promoting two? Obviously two Select Board members—Brewer and O’Keeffe will not support that, and patriotically-challenged Awad is gone as of 8/31, so the Town Manager had better start watching his back.

I hope the Committee comes to a clear, decisive decision soon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Just another day


Somewhat South Amherst 3:00 PM

Attention to detail

Well since they can't spell my name correctly--just as well they are not heading up the investigation.

Update: 1:45 pm This is the post that really spooked Hubley. Click this link

From: "Tishler, Sarah (AGO)"
RE: quo warranto request (2'nd) to remove Amherst Town official over residency
Date:July 31, 2008 3:57:07 PM EDT
To: amherstac@aol.com

Dear Mr. Kelly,

Thank you for contacting the Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley. Your e-mail has been forwarded to me for response. At this time, the Attorney General’s Office is choosing to decline your request for a quo warranto procedure. If you wish to pursue this matter further, you may wish to contact the State Ethics Commission. They can be reached using the following contact information:

State Ethics Commission
One Ashburton Place, Room 619
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: (617) 371-9500
Toll Free: 1-888-485-4766
Fax: (617) 723-5851
www.mass.gov/ethics/

We regret that we cannot be of more assistance to you in this matter.

Sincerely,



Community Information and Education Division

Complaint to Secretary of State (still waiting for response)

From: amherstac@aol.com [mailto:amherstac@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, July 07, 2008 8:44 AM
To: E-MailCorrespondence, Ago (AGO)
Subject: quo warranto request (2'nd) to remove Amherst Town official over residency

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
July 7, 2008

Dear Attorney General Coakley,

On May 20 I requested you undertake a ‘quo warranto procedure’ to remove from office Amherst Town Meeting member Robie Hubley. On April 10 Mr. Hubley signed a ‘Homestead’ declaration for a residency in South Hadley and also signed (with his wife) an FDIC mortgage from Florence Savings Bank that also requires “primary residency” at the South Hadley home.

The Amherst Town Attorney wrote to you and politely suggested you stay out of the matter until the local option occurred, G.L.c. 51, 48—a hearing before the Amherst Board of Registrars.

On Thursday, July 3’rd the Board did meet (as I am currently in China adopting a second daughter, I did not attend) and according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette both Robie Hubley and his wife Anne Awad (who recently resigned her Select Board seat) attended but did not speak, because—amazingly--the Board of Registrars did not ask them any questions!

The issue of the “Homestead” declaration was not discussed and the bank mortgage “primary residency” requirement was dismissed as a “private” matter.

One of the three Registrars, Harry Brooks, is a personal friend of Anne Awad and failed to recuse himself from the proceeding.

The Town Clerk (who moderated the meeting) serves at the whim of the Amherst Town Manager. Anne Awad and Robie Hubley were both Amherst Select Board members two years ago and made the decision to hire him. Town Manager Shaffer has steadfastly defended the couples right to declare Amherst their home no matter the evidence to the contrary.

Since this initial July 3 hearing was simply exploratory to ascertain whether “sufficient grounds for an investigation” exists, it is beyond comprehension the Board of Registrars unanimously decided that no such grounds exist —right up there with the earth is flat, Apollo 11 never landed on the moon and Elvis is alive.

Obviously the proceeding was far from impartial and if allowed to go unchallenged will undermine the confidence of Amherst voters in our system of democracy.

Could you now, please, bring your office into this matter?


Sincerely Yours,

Larry Kelley
Amherst Town Meeting
Amherst Redevelopment Authority
5’Th generation Amherst resident

via email

Monday, August 4, 2008

Why we fight

The British, under a white flag, surrender at Yorktown.

The Gazette refused to publish the following Letter To The Editor because it was “too negative.”

Subject: Fake Iraq War Vets march in Amherst 4th Parade
Date: Sat, 5 Jul 2008 16:28:24

I am an Iraq war veteran who marched in the 4th of July parade in Amherst. It is my duty to inform the general public that there were people who marched with a group called 'Iraq Veterans Against The War' who were not veterans' of any kind. They portrayed themselves to be yet were not. As a decorated Iraq war vet I found it nauseating. It was despicable tasteless and truly pathetic.

Albert N Sanchez (groups leader): you allowed this. I don't know which non-Infantry, non-Airborne unit you were with in Iraq. But if they knew what kind of improper behavior you have shown marching fake vets for your "Band of Quitters" they would surely like to string you up.

Let me also remind the general public that Mr. Sanchez joined the military of his own free will; as I did after the events of 9/11. If he had a problem ridding the world of terrorists he should have stayed in his cubicle. Not joined the military.

As a former Iraq Airborne LLRP who saw action on a regular basis I must say Mr. Sanchez's actions are totally despicable. And they Do Not represent your United States Military in any way.

Sincerely,

Rob McAllister
5th Core, Team 6, Airborne Long-Range Reconnaissance And Surveillance team. RTLW

Blog Editors Note: John Langford was one of the fake vets Mr. McAllister references. And at age 69 he could hardly pass for “recent veterans and active duty servicemen and women from all branches of military service, National Guard members, and reservists who have served in the United States military since September 11, 2001."

Rob McAllister, an Amherst native, joined this elite branch of the military at age 30, after watching the twin towers fall. He parachuted into Iraq two days after the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign started in March 2003. Rob was wounded in an ambush a year later and he was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor. “His actions on the .50 caliber machine gun saved the lives of his fellow team members and allowed for the medevac of the wounded."

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Politics on display at Amherst parade
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Springfield Republican

Indeed, a group of a dozen people from two antiwar groups, Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War, marched with their banner and T-shirts proclaiming their opposition to the Iraq War.

"It's a private parade. If there are rules, we're going to abide by them," said Albert N. Sanchez, an Iraq War veteran.
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Vince O’Connor, forever anti-war protester, goes out of his way at the July 28 Select Board meeting to champion a Umass student who is an “Iraq war veteran” (so why do you just know he opposes that war) who may want to run for X-Czar Awad’s Select Board seat. And in the discussion, Weiss--who posed in town center with an upside down American flag to protest our Iraq policy—Awad and Stein echoed the cause.

The nomination papers with 50 signatures were due the next day unless the Select Board postponed the election until November and obviously this particular unnamed Umass “Iraq war veteran” was far, far from Amherst.

The Select Board voted 3-2 (the new malevolent majority) to postpone the original election date, thus disenfranchising two experienced candidates who had done the work.

Hmmm…

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mel: Please come to Amherst (any Sunday)



NORTHAMPTON - Are you an aging hippie between 30 and 75 with protesting experience? Or a young punk 18 to 22? Then Boston Casting wants you to be an extra in a new Mel Gibson movie that's being shot in the city. Gazette lead 8/1/08:

So Mr. O’Connor has been protesting in Amherst Town Center every Sunday for over 30 years; just my luck--he was not there today when I shot this “drive by”(Oh My God! A military metaphor…or is it a Hip Hop Gang metaphor?) photo below at exactly 1:00 PM when Pat Church yelled "Okay folks, that's time!" And they quickly started heading off. Yeah, this is the same Pat Church

John Langford, however, was present and accounted for (also—like Vince—hanging around there forever). You can see his bald spot just above the "G" on the banner ‘Global Peace and Justice”

Gotta love the young lady (so Mr. Gibson will not be interested in her…well, at least as far as “aging hippies” goes) flashing the peace sign while looking the other way. Maybe her Spidey senses felt the presence of a paparazzi stalker.

Yeah, these folks have been in Amherst Town Center every Sunday since 1966. Aging Hippies indeed!


This is located (click to enlarge) within feet of the official flag pole in Town Center almost exactly where these folks have exercised their First Amendment rights since 1968. Fair enough. But three or four years ago when a prominent businessman (not me) wanted to donate a granite marker to commemorate the stunning events of 9/11 he was blown off like dried up leaves on a lawn.

Mary Carey's revealing profile

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hail Caesar


Or at least I think it is a bust of Caesar, but with Dave you never know.

Symbolic comment aimed at the Town Manager perhaps?