Friday, November 27, 2009

And another one gone...

So it was announced at a Wednesday staff meeting that Department Head Epi Bodhi, Director of the Amherst Health Department is retiring. Ms Bodhi will probably best be remembered for the caustic Smoking Ban in Bars battle, dubbed the "issue of the year" by the venerable Amherst Bulletin for 1999. The ban, barely, held making Amherst for a brief while the only town with such an ordinance that now is now a statewide law commonly accepted.

And as a sizably-paid town employee (unlike the actual Board of Health that's made up of volunteers) she had to traverse a minefield as her boss Town Manager Barry Del Castilho and the Select Board lead by Bryan Harvey and ever so vocal pro-smoking Czar Hill Boss (affectionately refereed to a "Boss Hill") sided with the ultra vocal bar owners.

Yeah, you would think Public Health would be above politics--but not in Amherst. In fact, town officials will probably now use her retirement as fodder for the upcoming Override by adding her position to the body count of employees cut due to budget constraints (although a few of those cut have simply shifted to grant funding.)

20 comments:

Ed said...

Three things:

First, I am all for the smoking ban, but it was done the wrong way. In a democracy, we have a set procedure for establishing public policy and that does not include granting unappealable dictatorial powers to an un-elected board. Even when the board is right.

Particularly when the board is right.

The bar smoking ban was a good idea but one which ought to have gone through the proper channels and not been an end-run around the rules.

Second, there are real issues about how Boards of Health have dictatorial powers in Massachusetts, and this is increasingly becoming problematic and controvercial.

Third, you may have been a fan of Epi Bode, but I was not. There were a LOT of things that needed to be addressed in this town which she simply prevented from being addressed. Remember the push to inspect all the rental housing???

If North Adams can ensure that the college students there are moving into something resembling safe apartments, if Boston can as well, why not Amherst?

LarryK4 said...

Because the Amherst landlords (yes, some of them slumlords) have W-A-Y more political clout than the barowners ever did.

Anonymous said...

Students get good housing when they live in a manner that deserves it. When they live like pigs, they get what they deserve.

Signed,

The Couch Sitting on the Lawn in the Rain

LarryK4 said...

Not far from my house as a matter of fact...

Anonymous said...

"Because the Amherst landlords (yes, some of them slumlords) have W-A-Y more political clout than the barowners ever did."


In what way, Larry?

Ed said...

Students get good housing when they live in a manner that deserves it.

Amherst will get respect from the students when they treat us in a manner that deserves it.

When they live like pigs, they get what they deserve.

When the police act like pigs, they will be considered the same.

Be very careful about judging 30,000 people on the basis of the few lest you wish to be yourself so judged. And a couch on the lawn in the rain is something that the Board of Health ought to be also dealing with. Yes, it is...

Ed said...

Because the Amherst landlords (yes, some of them slumlords) have W-A-Y more political clout than the barowners ever did.

I always found it fascinating that those landlords who never rented Section 8 were the same ones who complained the loudest about student behavior. And as I personally knew the Section 8 inspector at the time, my perception always was a combination of (a) their properties wouldn't pass the Section 8 inspection without them fixing stuff and (b) their management practices wouldn't work with Sect 8 tenants who would have free legal representation.

I always noticed the connection.

Anonymous said...

Tried to rent to students a few years ago but there were no insurance companies in Mass. that would cover my house if it was rented to undergraduates.

Anonymous said...

Larry K and Anne A were on the same side
on the no-smoking issue....

LarryK4 said...

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Anonymous said...

Um, that's how we created Al Qaeda in trying to fight the Russians. Maybe you need a better philosophy.

LarryK4 said...

Well at least I do not have Stinger missiles stored under my bed.

Ed said...

Um, that's how we created Al Qaeda in trying to fight the Russians. Maybe you need a better philosophy.

Not exactly.

Anonymous said...

"Because the Amherst landlords (yes, some of them slumlords) have W-A-Y more political clout than the barowners ever did."


"In what way, Larry?"



Come on Larry, I'm still waiting for an answer.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I figured you would be.

Ed said...

"Because the Amherst landlords (yes, some of them slumlords) have W-A-Y more political clout than the barowners ever did."

"In what way, Larry?"


In the way of being able to get the university to subsidize their operating expenses.

How?

(a) Having UMass do their tenant screening for them. This is a considerable expense that they avoid (that other commercial landlords in other towns don't.)

(b) Having UMass do a lot of their management for them. Other landlords have to manage their properties (and their problem tenants) themselves. Not hand them off to a state agency.

(c) Bring in UMass to balance off community pressure that they spend money to improve their properties. What would be considered unacceptable greed-based overcrowded slum conditions are instead then spun to be a college problem.

Anonymous said...

Larry, do you agree with Ed, or where you going to say something else? Do tell.

LarryK4 said...

Sure, send me $1 via Papal and I'll be happy to answer questions on demand.

My new way to monetize the site.

Anonymous said...

So you can buy the boogeyman some candy corn?

Anonymous said...

AMHERST - The cuts needed in next year's school budget are so large that Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez is considering the option of moving students from the Regional Middle School to Amherst Regional High School.

"We're looking to see if that is a model that would save us a substantial amount of dollars," he told a joint meeting of the Amherst and Regional School Committees Tuesday. He said the probe is in its initial stage.

Rodriguez acknowledged that there would be substantial pushback from parents.

But the combination of increased staff costs and decreasing state aid requires cuts that he called "draconian," unless voters agree to raise property taxes beyond state limits next March.

Committee member Debbie Gould, of Pelham, said it's difficult to achieve cuts in the $2 million to $3 million range, while maintaining popular programs, by just trimming here and there. "In these times, we need to leave no stone unturned," she said.


And here's the kicker:



Committee member Irv Rhodes, of Amherst, compared the creation of a school budget to building a house. He said he wants to tell administrators how much money is available but not to micromanage the construction.

Rodriguez continued the metaphor. "Where do you want the window?" Rodriguez said. "We need guidance as we're building the house so there's as little wasted motion as possible."



Yep, no-one wants to be held accountable when the f'ing shit hits the fan... AR has learned the ways of foul Amherst VERY quickly... Good for him. Blaming it on "staff costs"? Nice.

Can you say with me, Amherst?

Immmmm-plo-sssssion.

I knew you could.


p.s.

Forget "over-ride". Forget employee "give-back"... LOL.