Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I've got a secret


So don't get me wrong I love Northwestern DA Elizabeth Scheibel: a successful woman, as such a great role model for my young daughters and of course that rarest of breeds in this state--a Republican.

But damn, she can be ultra-conservative when it comes to releasing information. And my friends at the Springfield Republican are correct when they editorialize that letting public documents like the Fire Department incident reports see the light of publication can possibly help with the investigation as readers may remember something in their neighborhood that occurred around that time.

Besides, the audio tapes of the emergency dispatch are already on the web. Here we are days later and she will not even confirm the names of the two dead citizens long ago confirmed to the media by family members.

Long time readers of this site may remember me breaking the story of the investigation into the horrific bus accident in Amherst that claimed the life of a two year old. My ultra-reliable sources confirmed both Amherst PD and State PD accident reconstruction teams concluded it was an accident and by mid-May the DA had both reports on her desk, yet she waited until September to officially close the case.

The Springfield Republican speaks:

Larry Kelley reported:

And many months later:

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah Larry, you needed to be pushed to do what you did, member?


Give patting yourself on the back a rest, will you please...

LarryK4 said...

Yeah pushed by an Anon who wanted me to pin it on the School Maintenance Department.

Anonymous said...

No one should have to live through what the residents of Ward 3 in Northampton have been going through.

But, as a native of Northampton, I've learned something else in the past twenty years: thousands, if not millions, of Americans live in constant fear in and around their own homes, and it's beyond what people in other Western countries (like Canada, for example) have to tolerate.

So residents in Northampton are now familiarizing themselves with emotions and fears that their brothers and sisters within the same area code, in Holyoke and Springfield, have been experiencing for decades. Folks in Holyoke and Springfield have been hearing gunfire in their neighborhoods at night for years.

What the ACLU does is important, but what the police and other law enforcement agencies are trying to cope with is real, too. Now that reality has come to Northampton, providing a very unwelcome bigger picture of ordered liberty in jeopardy.

No one should have to live with it.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

Or what the average Israeli has lived with for two generations now. One reason why their air security is better than ours.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah pushed by an Anon who wanted me to pin it on the School Maintenance Department."



Pat pat pat...

Anonymous said...

Long time readers of this site may remember me,me,me,me. Somehow every story involves me.

LarryK4 said...

well...it is MY blog, Nitwit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but Mr. Junior Journalist, you'll notice that other news reports don't always start with "this happened to me too." They just report the story.

If there's a tsunami in Fiji it doesn't matter if the reporter once had his toilet overflow. It's about they story not you.

Anonymous said...

You always fall back on the childish "it's my toy and I want to play with it" argument. Well, then don't expect anyone to take you seriously.

LarryK4 said...

And you're both (or are you but one?) Anons, so by definition NOBODY takes YOU seriously.

Anonymous said...

Don't think you will ever teach Larry anything. He's impervious to learning. He still makes the same grammatical mistakes he made in high school.

LarryK4 said...

Why copy editors will survive.

Anonymous said...

Back on the fires:

You will see some outstanding reporting from the Gazette today, going deeper into the story.

As a continuing critic of the coverage we get on this side of the river, I feel obligated to point it out to people who read here.

This is what we need: more than simply an inventory of public opinion, more than simply a regurgitation of utterances at public meetings.

We need a local newspaper that goes deeper, as this coverage today does, and I, for one, am willing to pay more to get it.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

For some of the journalists covering this tragedy it is the story of a lifetime. And that shows. They have indeed stepped up.

Just as for the Public Safety professionals who responded that night: it was (let's hope) a once in lifetime event, and they most certainly rose to the occasion.

Anonymous said...

And good coverage by the Gazette begets other good questions:

First column on Page A7 refers to "the benefit of having a city-based ambulance service and more firefighting staff than in past years". So what role did Northampton's override vote play in the staffing level for these fires?

Now, you know where I come out on this as an override supporter (although there's been some interesting backchannel talk about delaying an Amherst vote until 2011), but I'm not loading the question. Perhaps the answer is "none".

Another aspect of this event and its aftermath is the important public role played by the newly reelected Mayor. (You may have heard her on the radio responding to the accusation that government viewed Ward 3 as "the wrong side of the tracks.") So who would play this function in Amherst? Another potentially loaded question, for which my initial tentative answer would be: No one as well as a mayor.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

On your first question I would guess none. When the Nitwit tried to blow up the plane landing in Detroit no Sky Marshal was aboard. Some folks mentioned "budget cuts". Wrong.

An ambulance service (because of insurance reimbursement) is pretty much a Cash Cow. One good reason Amherst should keep it in house rather than farming out to the private sector (although we need to start charging other towns and Umass a higher flat rate).

On your second question: Agreed! Nobody steps up quicker than a Mayor (Rudy Giuliani for instance).

Although, had this occured in Amherst I'm sure Princess Stephanie would have been out in front of the cameras rather quickly wearing a fashionable scarf around her elegant neck (benefits of her PR flack background).

Anonymous said...

"...it was (let's hope) a once in lifetime event..."



Iran we love you we love you!

Terrorists we love you we love you!

Don't forget Amherst... the anarchists have names...

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, and presumably so do Cowardly, Anon, Nitwit guys who like to comment via a Romulan cloaking device.

Rick said...

"This is what we need: more than simply an inventory of public opinion, more than simply a regurgitation of utterances at public meetings."

Amen to that.

"...and I, for one, am willing to pay more to get it."

Same here; unfortunately most aren't, so we don't get it.

It does cost a lot to do though. Many wonder if the huge cost of printing on paper would be better spent paying more and better journalists.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, it's kind of like an Override: if only those who voted yes (and lost) decided to chip in anyway it still would not fill in the (black) hole.

Anonymous said...

"Rudy Giuliani for instance"

He made lots of appearances...at Yankee games.

Just ask the true heroes, the firefighters. They can't stand him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rick.

The allocation of resources at the Gazette between Northampton and Amherst seems to be a vestige of an earlier time in the last century when Amherst was clearly a much more rural community, compared with Hamp.

The recent national news coverage has been identifying Northampton as a city of 28,000 people. Seems to me that, even in the summer months, we have more people than that living in Amherst, or at least in the four towns of the Amherst Regional School District. BUT we get a fraction of the news coverage that Northampton gets from the Gazette, plus the weekly Bulletin which usually merely compiles the daily reporting and then adds the Commentary page to it. That doesn't seem to me to be a fair split of the reporting resources.

I understand that civic obligation does not by itself sell newspapers, and there may be business considerations at the Gazette that I don't know about. But, if the blogosphere is any indication, the audience for more in-depth local news coverage seems to be here in Amherst, in a community populated with compulsive readers. Instead, what we get nowadays are, for example, USA Today-style highlights boxes for Town Meeting sessions that treat that whole process as simply a form of entertainment.

The argument could be made that, with Amherst's peculiar "headless horseman" form of government and with the proliferation of blogs, the importance of a local newspaper in Amherst is greater than just about anywhere.

Given what the Gazette is capable of (as demonstrated in the past few days), I think we on the east side of the river are getting the short end. Larry calls the Gazette "crusty" and I'm not entirely sure what he means. But, for me (and I acknowledge that I could be wrong), I get a whiff of contempt from the folks in charge there.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

Strangely enough for a newspaper based in Hamp, I believe their highest circulation is in, gasp, Easthampton.

Anonymous said...

Amherst government reporting was much more in depth and edgy when Mary Carey reported it. But I think a certain self important selectman from our recent past couldn't stand seeing himself reflected in her words, which caused pressure to be put on the Gazette to tone things down. And ever since, we've gotten nothing more than the white washed, regurgitation, style of reporting Rich speaks of. At least that's how I interpreted the change at the time from my seat here in the peanut gallery. It's a pity really. I used to really look forward to my weekly fix of Bulletin news and commentary. Now, I seldom even remember to search out a copy.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I heard he programmed a computer to flood the Gazette with phone calls and overwhelm their main line--not that phone connections are as important as they once were for a business.

But I think letting Mary go was strictly a budget issue.

Anonymous said...

That would be one Rob Kusner, and that report has been confirmed.

The man had anger issues.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, that's our Rob.

I'm sitting here reading the "Mandatory Educational Requirements Chapter 28 of the Acts of 2009" regarding "Conflict of Interest Law" and I'm still amazed the state found no fault when he voted (a deciding vote no less) on the sweetheart deal giving Umass--his employer--$40,000 per year in free effluent water for the new Powerplant.

Strangely enough about six months later Umass awards him a paid sabbatical. Coincidence I'm sure, just coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Larry,
Mary may have ultimately been let go because of budget cuts. But her "demotion" to school committee reporting before that was a direct result of pressure put on the Gazette by the aforementioned selectman. Her reporting was right on as far as I was concerned, but apparently that was not what mattered most to the Gazette.

Ed said...

(You may have heard her on the radio responding to the accusation that government viewed Ward 3 as "the wrong side of the tracks.")

"Wrong side of the tracks" in Amherst is either Hobart Lane or similar places where UM students live.

And I would more expect Larry making friends with the Town Mangler (et al) than anyone saying anything nice about the UM students....

Ed said...

So residents in Northampton are now familiarizing themselves with emotions and fears that their brothers and sisters who are UMass students experience in Amherst.

My Dear Mr. Morse, you simply do not know the triple level of fear that the undergrads experience. Remember last spring when the response was to order the girls be evicted????

Anonymous said...

Larry, if that DA is a Republican, then I am an Olympic-Class Athlete!

SHE IS NOT A REPUBLICAN. Republicans don't do any of the stuff she is doing, not the least of which being encouraging folks to vote for a Democrat to replace her...

S.P. Sullivan said...

I think the coverage of the fires was a good glimpse at a future when citizen journalists like you and mainstream organizations like MassLive/The Republican and The Gazette feed off each other.

That's what I saw, anyway, and it was pretty awesome - it's too bad the case study had to be such a tragic incident.

LarryK4 said...

Agreed.

I just hope the mainstream organizations survive.

ED said...

SP & Larry -- take a look at history. The same thing has happened in the past - in the latter half of the 18th Century, all the issues we are dealing with were arising with local newspapers which were the blogs of the day. Which copyright-be-damned reprinted stuff without permission. Etc.

Something will have to winnow the blogosphere...