Monday, August 31, 2009

Banned again.

Monday, 9:10 AM

Since he only uploads about once a month, I don’t visit Town Manager Larry Shaffer’s blog very often but checked it out late last week for the first time in a while. I left a comment on his August 7 disingenuous post cheering Cherry Hill:

Town Manager's post

Blogger LarryK4 said...

Yes Larry, but the purported "profit" does not include hidden costs like employee benefits, insurance, and capital improvements (underground storage tank, security fencing and greens mower) which combined come to over $100-K.

August 27, 2009 9:46 PM

Amazingly he posted again (wow twice in a month) on the rainy afternoon of August 29 (a Saturday no less) hyping the “grand opening “ of the Plum Brook Soccer fields. So obviously he saw my Comment from two days before, and decided to censor it (he has "moderation" enabled so Comments must be approved before they get posted.)

Now if the Town Manager simply had a privately-owned personal blog he could do anything he wants with comments, but since his blog is hosted on the town web page paid for with tax dollars he should respect the First Amendment.

After all, I thought the People’s Republic of Amherst was the town “where only the H is silent.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Drowning in quicksand.

Blogger's annual fight for flags fails
Staff Writer

Friday, August 28, 2009

AMHERST - Commemorative American flags are not expected to fly over Amherst's streets Sept. 11, despite an appeal from an Amherst blogger who wants the Select Board to change its policy governing their use.

Larry Kelley, a Town Meeting member from South Pleasant Street, told the Select Board this week that it should have the 29 flags fly every Sept. 11.

"History will always remember what happened on 9/11, and I think the town should remember it," Kelley said.

Select Board Chairwoman Stephanie O'Keeffe told Kelley that the issue could be considered at the board's next meeting, on Monday, but only if another board member asked for a new vote. This did not happen.

"I had asked Select Board members to let me know by 9 this morning if they wanted to have this issue put on Monday's agenda," O'Keeffe said in an email Thursday. "None did."

Kelley's request came even though the Select Board last year approved a policy that will allow the commemorative flags to fly every three years, meaning the next time they will be up is in 2011, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. This compromise idea was offered by former Chairman Gerry Weiss.

O'Keeffe has said she personally supports having flags fly every year Sept. 11, but understands this is not a sentiment shared by everyone.

"Last year we made a multi-year decision supported by a majority of the Select Board," O'Keeffe said.

Kelley pointed out that Aaron Hayden, who joined the board in November, has not been able to vote on the topic. On Kelley's blog, he refers to O'Keeffe's decision to leave the matter off the next agenda as a pocket veto.

During the public comment period, Ernie Dalkas, of East Hadley Road, talked about the recent injury suffered by Joshua Bouchard, an Amherst Regional High School graduate, who lost a leg in Afghanistan. Dalkas said this illustrates how Sept. 11 is still being felt.

Kelley said the date that 3,000 Americans were killed in new York, Washington and Pennsylvania remains important.

"Now you can't look down at a nine and an 11 without it striking at your soul," Kelley said.

O'Keeffe said the town annually commemorates the day by having a ceremony at the downtown fire station, which board members and others attend to reflect on the loss of lives.

On Sept. 10, 2001, the board set Patriots' Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day through Bunker Hill Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and, every four years Inauguration Day, as the only days the commemorative flags can go up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A stunningly sad symbol

Rob McAllister (2'nd from Rt.) Color Guard Amherst July 4 Parade 

Amherst native Rob McAllister (5th Core, Team 6, Airborne Long-Range Reconnaissance And Surveillance team. RTLW) is one of those genuine Small-Town heroes who would equally stand tall as a hero in any Big-City in America. After watching the Twin Towers fall on 9/11, he joined up at age 30--rather late in life for that kind of a job description where when used as directed you can die a horrible death.

Rob parachuted into Iraq two days after the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign started in March 2003. He was wounded in an ambush a year later and 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."

This morning I heard his familiar voice over the drone of a vacuum at the Golden Nozzle Car Wash on the Amherst/Hadley border. I was cleaning the inside of my Van because my wife was going to use it for the first time in a while and Robby was coming in for a car wash.

He said “I’m trying not to let this ruin my day, but obviously somebody resented my license plate and spit on my car.” I simply could not believe it and actually went to the back of his car to check, figuring it must me bird droppings. But sure enough, the rear-window exhibited a large glob of spit and on the side-window (a 90-degree angle away) another large glob.

Now if it were just one impact, I would think it was a mistake and the Nitwit spit in the air and the wind accidentally carried it to window and they were too lazy to clean it off. But two distinct hits at two distinct angles leaves little doubt it was intentional.

Rob McAllister's license plate is also very distinctive: A limited edition Veteran/Purple Heart plate that the state of Massachusetts issues (and does check the paperwork to ensure you are deserving.)

The Bully reported:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cold hearted orb that rules the night...

UPDATE: Thursday noon: The Pocket Veto is Complete
Sent: Thu, Aug 27, 2009 10:01 am
Subject: regarding Monday's SB agenda

Hi Larry --

I had asked Select Board members to let me know by 9:00 a.m. today if they wanted to include a discussion of the 9/11 commemorative flag policy on Monday's agenda. None did.

Just want to make sure that I keep you informed about this.

Take care.


Sent: Thu, Aug 27, 2009 12:08 pm
Subject: Re: regarding Monday's SB agenda

Hey Stephanie,
Thanks, appreciate the timely update (but not so much the message).

Her Highness feels the heat

The Republican Reports:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A simple request...

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephanie O'Keeffe
To: amherstac
Sent: Mon, Aug 24, 2009 9:18 pm
Subject: 8/31 Select Board meeting

Hi Larry --

The Select Board will be meeting on Monday, 8/31. This was to be a meeting just about the Town Manager evaluation and goals, but due to the time sensitivity of the 9/11 flag request, we will also address that if any Select Board member requests that it be on the agenda. If no SB member requests it, that suggests that no one feels that the current policy needs to be revisited. As you noted, Aaron has not had the opportunity to vote on this issue yet, so I will make sure he understands that this is that opportunity, if he wants it.

I will be sure to let you know if it gets placed on the agenda.

Thank you for coming in tonight.


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Mon, Aug 24, 2009 9:32 pm
Subject: Re: 8/31 Select Board meeting

Hey Stephanie,

Thanks for the update. Can't wait to see how it plays out. Even if the answer is No, I will of course be back next year (2010) at this same time, since according to the "3-year plan" the flags are not allowed up again until 2111--the tenth anniversary.


UPDATE: 9:15 PM My digital editing video is being satanic so no clip upload tonight. Meeting is probably still going on so I don't even know yet if they are meeting on August 31 and if not the next scheduled meeting is on 9/14--a tad late to discuss flying the flags on 9/11.

Princess Stephanie seemed to be using the old "pocket veto," as she would not vote on something brought up during Question Period and stated she would not put it on the agenda for the 8/31 meeting--if indeed they meet that night. She did say, however, any other Select Board member could request to put it on the agenda for public discussion and a vote if they so desired. I'm not going to hold my breath.
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Sun, Aug 23, 2009 12:56 pm

I will appear Monday night during the opening ‘Question Period’ as I have done every late-August since 2001 to request the 29 commemorative American flags fly in the downtown on 9/11 to mark the worst attack on American soil in our nation’s history.

Of course I’m mindful that last year you set a new policy allowing the flags to fly on 9/11 every third year citing Town Meeting’s vote (perhaps the most shameful in 250 years) by two-thirds against and only one-third for flying the flags every 9/11.

But I was always taught democracy is an all-or-nothing process; and that the majority rules. Would you have John McCain serve as President 46% of the time? Or based on a 7-2 Supreme Court decision, should 2 women out of 9 be denied the right to choose?

Besides, last year the 5-member Select board was down one member and the newest member has not been allowed to vote on this issue.

Larry Kelley

Amherst Redevelopment Authority
Amherst Town Meeting
5th generation resident
Citizen Journalist
Stephanie O'Keeffe to you and Select Board - 46 min ago
To: amherstac
Cc: Select Board
Sun, Aug 23, 2009 1:30 pm

Hi Larry --

We will see you tomorrow night. Two things to note: we don't vote on anything during Public Comment period; and I don't expect Aaron to be at the meeting.

Take care.


Sent: Sun, Aug 23, 2009 2:13 pm
Subject: Re: A simple request

Hey Stephanie,

Fair enough. Can't say I disagree with that policy. Just hope the full Select board meets one more time prior to the anniversary of that awful day.


That shameful (Only In) Amherst night at Town Meeting

Best reason in the world to change our form of government

Friday, August 21, 2009

Forest for the trees

No wonder the Town Mangler avoided public comment on the "draft report" of the blue ribbon committee commissioned over 1.5 years ago to analyze our $60+ million town budget. Like me, he probably can't figure out what the Hell they are trying to say.

Reminds me of my Umass freshman days where I would spew garbage into a paper and hope the Professor would separate the wheat from the chaff.

I find it odd they would collect and compare statewide data "selected on basis of population, per capita income, land area, median family income, equalized property valuations, and operating budget."

Students comprise about half of Amherst's 35,000 population. And as State Senator Stan Rosenberg has pointed out many, many times (when pressured to get more $ out of Umass for Payment In Lieu Of Taxes), the state counts students equally as year-round residents, the vast majority of whom work and make decent annual salaries.

Many students do not work, or work under the table--thus skewing the criteria for comparisons.

The major problem with Amherst is minor math: over half of town property is tax-exempt (owned by Amherst College, Umass, Hampshire College and the town Conservation Department). And of the half that is on the tax rolls, 90% are homes and only 10% commercial property.

Amherst needs more businesses and for the tax-exempts to step up and carry their bloated weight.

Click to enlarge/read (warning: snooze alert)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A coward dies a thousand deaths

So Scotland caved: they released a mass murderer on grounds of "compassion." The man convicted of blowing 259 innocent civilians out of the sky at 30,000 feet and killing 11 more on the ground below.

And only in Libya--or perhaps North Korea--would this monster be welcomed home as a hero.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

If you don't like the report...

Left to right: Shaffer, SB Princess Stephanie O'Keeffe and rookie Aaron Hayden.

So these returns from a search on the venerable Daily Hampshire Gazette under the term Amherst Town Manager Blue ribbon committee really tell the story. "Long awaited" and "coming soon" in the same headline all time/date stamped almost six months ago.

Still no public release of the report. Although my reliable source stated it was submitted to the Town Mangler back in May.

Could it be they did not champion the Override as a cure all?

  1. Shaffer: Long-awaited blue ribbon panel conclusions are coming soon Daily Hampshire Gazette

    Wednesday Mar 4, 2009

    AMHERST - A three-member panel studying efficiencies in the organization of the town government and schools for more than a year is preparing to release its conclusions. Town Manager Larry Shaffer ... more...

    By SCOTT MERZBACH Staff Writer

  2. Expert budget advice pending, Shaffer says Daily Hampshire Gazette

    Monday Aug 18, 2008

    AMHERST - A Blue Ribbon Task Force designed to give town and school administrators insight into making the government and schools more efficient has not yet made any recommendations. Town Manager L... more...

    By SCOTT MERZBACH Staff Writer

  3. Amherst forms 'blue ribbon' budget committee Daily Hampshire Gazette

    Wednesday Dec 19, 2007

    AMHERST - Town officials are seeking advice from both financial experts and regular folks as they prepare spending plans in yet another tight year. Town Manager Larry Shaffer has appointed a "... more...

    By NICK GRABBE Staff Writer

Do as I say, not...

Hope springs eternal

So according to the venerable Daily Hampshire Gazette, the Amherst Chamber of Commerce wants to convene a summit meeting of downtown heavy-hitter landlords (and there are only a half-dozen) in response to empty storefronts; meanwhile, less than a week later, the same paper carries a Front Page story about Chamber director Tony Maroulis adding to the problem by closing his art gallery at the end of this month.

The Bully re-reports (from the Gazette)

And it now looks like Lincoln Realty has rented one of the spaces anyway to yet another restaurant (probably for their asking price), without benefit of said summit. And so it goes...
Probably should have removed the Fram Filter sign

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rules of engagement

So after all these years the Australian board of inquiry came back with their finding on the loss of HMS Sydney and her entire crew of 645 (the worst WW11 disaster for our allies) that took place a few weeks before Pearl Harbor on the afternoon of November 19, 1941 .

The light Cruiser Sydney, the pride of the Australian Navy (they of course could not afford heavy duty Battleships--not that ours survived the same treachery at Pearl Harbor), had "inexplicably" approached a disguised German raider to point blank range.

After a radio challenge, the Kormoran suddenly raised her German flag as she simultaneously opened fire on the Sydney with every gun blazing, including torpedo's. The first salvo took out the Sydney's Command and Control and within five minutes about 70% of the crew.

The mortally wounded Sydney returned fire and inflicted enough damage to (eventually) sink the Kormoran, but she limped away totally ablaze only to sink within a few hours with all hands aboard. A total loss of life.

On the early morning of December 7, 1941 the Empire of Japan had planned to declare war on the US only moments before the bombs and machine guns devastated our unsuspecting fleet moored at Pearl Harbor.

Slight miscalculation, as the coded missive from the emperor was not translated by their underlings in time (and never actually said that a state of war exists.) An enraged America repaid their treachery many times over.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rot in Hell!

This laconic loser purposely places a BOMB on board a civilian aircraft designed to detonate at high altitude where the resulting concussion, freezing temperatures, gale force winds and free falling 30,000 feet at terminal velocity guarantee a horrific death for all 259 human beings on board not to mention 11 on the ground; and now the quaint country of Scotland is considering releasing him on humanitarian grounds because he has cancer????

May he die as painful and horrific a death as he inflicted on 270 innocent civilians. Alone, in a dark cell--with the Devil as his only friend!

Don't worry, be happy

Amherst Town Center 10:30 AM

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Does anybody really know what time it is?

10:45 AM Click to enlarge/read the clock

Apparently not, if you are in downtown Amherst.

Consonance and Dissonance

Amherst Cinema this morning
Amherst DPW this morning

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A fight for revenues

Massachusetts legislators smell gold in what some critics refer to as a blood sport. The state senate recently passed a bill (34-1) that would regulate Mixed Martial Arts events more popularly known as 'Ultimate Fighting' And they of course, want a piece of the action.

UFC 101 sold out in Philadelphia last week--a notoriously loyal boxing city--drawing 17,411 spectators for a total gate of $3.55 million.

UFC President Dana White, a Connecticut resident but former Boston area gym rat and avowed Red Sex fan, is already talking about a UFC promotion at Fenway Park next year where upwards of 40,000 could be seated or possibly twice the total gate of the recent Philly event.

The state would get a 4% tax on total ticket sales and an additional 2% tax on TV revenues (capped at $75,000.)

Massachusetts lately has been getting more aggressive about regulating commercial physical activities: from Personal Trainers at health clubs to massage therapy licenses and now martial arts.

While I'm a BIG fan of President Reagan's small-government-is-good government paradigm, I still think when it comes to health and safety a little government regulation is a good thing.

The smoking ban in the workplace, legalizing abortion, and probably someday the marketing of marijuana, just to name a few.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Show me the money!

Click to enlarge/read but not if you are the PVPC guy.

So I often wonder about how effective orchestrated letter writing or mass email campaigns are when the target of such stunts may actually see the media story encouraging folks to complain.

After Town Meeting gave Atkins Farm Market a tax break for new construction and over $200,000 in paving via the DPW for a land swap it now looks like the Federal money may not be forthcoming. Seems like Amherst is certainly not getting its share of stimulus.

And in North Amherst business mogul Paul Jones is asking folks to write to the Amherst Postmaster to complain about the North Amherst Post Office closing even though it is not scheduled to close (considering Mr. Jones has rented to them for a generation or two apparently he's not taking chances.)

Although I'm sure the Postmaster will appreciate the use of first class stamps.

The Bully reports:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I hear a train a comin'

Ungated High Street

So the Internet was abuzz last week when some nitwit Amherst teenage girl played chicken with an Amtrak train in Cushman Center (North Amherst) while her nitwit sister took a picture. Gotta love somebody near the train aficionados video camera exclaim "what the fuck" as the girl first enters the frame and ambles to the center of the tracks and then sprints back.

Of course if that crossing had gates chances are the girl would not have done the deed. Although certainly not guaranteed prevention as evidenced by last month's horrific accident that claimed the lives of five teenagers where the driver decided to race an Amtrak train and went around the gates.Station Road with gates

The Railroad closed off Railroad Street, where Amtrak's historic brick train station is located, after a car train mishap a few years back. Apparently they own the north side of the street and it's not a public way (although open to thru traffic for over 200 years) so they simply decided only trains would have the right of way.Barricaded Railroad Street

But now I'm wondering why the town had to repave the railroad crossing on Strong Street (and any cyclist would agree it was L-O-N-G past due) where gates used to exist but seemed to have disappeared recently.Formerly gated and now repaved Strong Street.

I'm told that Cushman Center is slated for gates, but who knows when (he called it "railroad time"). Maybe after the next time a kid plays chicken--and loses.Ungated Cushman Center.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Butterflies Are Free

And so are the two journalists.

Having just visited Korea--the good side--I kind of knew that if anybody could free those two young women Bill Clinton could. His wife Hillary exchanged name calling with their dictator recently (not a good idea with somebody who normally does not have to hear such criticism--mainly because critics are killed.)

But as today's Wall Street Journal points out, you wonder what Slick Willy promised them on nuclear disarmament issues. And what about the thousand or so Japanese and South Korean hostages (some held since the the Korean Conflict was a shooting war) ?

Since the media outlet they represented is led by Al Gore, maybe the two just did it as a PR stunt. Perhaps Air America should send Rachel Maddow over the border.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And another, and another and another

"Officer down!" is perhaps the most chilling dispatch fellow officers can hear crackling over their radio or cell phone. In Amherst, the town force is now down another three officers as a Federal grant failed to materialize that would have paid salaries and benefits for three officers over three years.

Now this is not three additional officers to our beleaguered force; it would simply have maintained three officers in a roster already downsized by two last year.

Town Meeting approved a Public Safety budget with funding for the three officers contingent on the grant. This way Town Meeting washed their hands of the cuts and can now point the finger at the Feds.

Good game bureaucrats big-and-small seem to excel at: cover your ass, find somebody else to blame.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

All the news...

So I'm trying to figure out how the DA can complete an investigation in 6.5 months where a man is shot by two different people, the second one--a police officer--killing him (and I agree it was justifiable) but still has not released her findings on the terrible, terrible bus accident that claimed a 2-year-old in North Amherst last October.

My reliable sources tell me the State Police accident reconstruction investigation team concluded it was an awful accident.

The Springfield Republican reports

The Bully reported (way back then)