Friday, August 28, 2009
Drowning in quicksand.
Blogger's annual fight for flags fails
By SCOTT MERZBACH
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.