Monday, March 16, 2009

There he goes again

Vince O'Connor, activist

So comrade Vince is at it again. After miserable failures on the floor of Amherst town meeting as late—the “dark sky” initiative (turn downtown Amherst into North Korea after dark) or the “abolish the Amherst Redevelopment Authority” (but then comes in second in a write-in race for the one open seat that year) you would think he’d come up with something that stood a chance of passing, especially when it only take ten signatures to get anything on the warrant for Spring Town Meeting.

Now he want s the town to take by eminent domain the downtown building recently purchased by Amherst College (thus eventually removing it from the tax rolls) and use it for “economic development” and eventfully resell it to anyone but a tax-exempt entity.

But Mr. O’Connor thinks we take it away from Amherst College (who paid $2.3 million) for only $1 million (the actual assessed value). Hmmm…I would think a court would disagree and force the town to pay fair market value, which has now been established to be $2.3 million.

Not exactly the loose change the town can find stored in a bottle somewhere.

Interesting that Mr. O’Connor spearheaded the taking of Cherry Hill Golf Course for $2.2 million twenty-two years ago by eminent domain (which may be the last time the town used that power--and did so under an "emergency" clause that made the Town Meeting vote referendum proof) in order to prevent development.


Fiber Arts Center building

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder who is paying Mr. O'Connor's rent....

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Connor's first love, his own voice.

Anonymous said...

Can someone just call for a vote at the start to avoid all the pointless yakking? Biggest reason to not be a town meeting member...

Ed said...

I wonder if Vince's proposal would even be legal today. After the infamous Kelo decision, lots of states (including, I think, Massachusetts) have explicitly prevented doing this sort of thing (taking property to enhance property tax returns).

Of course the real question is if Amherst College, currently facing fiscal challenges, would be willing to sell the property (at cost) now that investments are in trouble.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, this is precisely what the opponents of the Charter wanted to preserve about our system of government:

that one man, aided by nine of his closest friends as petitioners , could mesmerize hundreds of elected representatives locked in the Middle School Auditorium, as well as thousands of enraptured television viewers at home, hour after hour on beautiful spring evenings with his visionary ideas for the future of his beloved town.

How picturesque, how buccolic! No need to build broad public support for an idea before unveiling it! Sure, it may be tedious, time-consuming, and wasteful of other people's time, but it's democracy at its best!

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

I remember a previous Town Clerk telling me in an unhappy voice that Vince would often surprise them with a Warrant article because he has a stock of blank petition forms at home to cover either Annual Town Meeting or Special Town Meeting.

You are supposed to go into the Town Clerks' office and request blank petition forms (and sign for them) each time you decide to file something (and that of course is a public document).

Sammy Jo said...

While I may not always like what Vince does, I do have to say that he is the most informed town meeting member around. After all, that is his job.

If everyone were as informed as Vince, maybe we'd have better decisions in town?

LarryK4 said...

Or maybe not.

Informed? Yes...usually.

But even at his most informed you have to be able to translate that into simple straightforward language, while on your feet, in front of a 150 or so folks, to not only inform them--but persuade them.

Ed's brain said...

I read Amherst College plans to turn it into a multi-denominational church with services, and coffee and AA meetings in the basement.

Maybe Vince will offer $1 plus shave his face and get a haircut. That might just get the college's attention.

Larry's&Vince'sBrain said...

Re-development of a building or already-used site is
not the same as new development out in places like Cherry Hill. Larry and Vince should both understand this already, but it's worth remind them.

Ed said...

How about going back to the property requirement for voting? The very real question - extreme in Amherst - is that a large number of people who do not work and who live on the public dole are the ones running the government.

My personal favorite, a while back, was the person, stating that he lives in subsidized low income housing, offering to use his trust fund for something political relative to trees (I forget what).

The real argument is if people on public assistance should be allowed to vote - let alone serve in higher positions...

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should move a military recruitment office into the building so vince would feel at home again when the temperature warms up. He could place a rockimg chair on the front stairs and do something useless with his memories He then could have someone else pay for room and board. Other that the taxpayers of Massachusetts. As they used to say go west young man go west and make your mark in life.

Anonymous said...

amherst should snatch it and name it "vince's cherry hill downtown".