Friday, April 30, 2010

Fleeting Fame

So apparently Wikipedia doesn't set very high hurdles for inclusion as a "historical" or just plain "notable" figure living in town as none other than Andrew Churchill (no relation to Winston) just made both lists, with his only cited claim to fame that he served on the School Committee until 2010.

No mention of course that under his watch the School Committee convinced Amherst Town Meeting to purchase two portable classrooms for Mark's Meadow Elementary School (where he had a child attending) for $215,000 that were never actually used for classrooms and will be auctioned as "surplus" at great loss.

Or that he rubber stamped the hiring of interim co-superintendents Alton Sprague and his wife Helen Vivian for $125,000 saying ""The Vivian/Sprague team really seemed to understand what we need in an interim superintendent - keep the trains running, keep communications open with the community, keep moving forward on our existing goals, and set things up well for the permanent superintendent next year."

The Co-Supers flew the coop four months early due to medical issues yet still collected full pay for the entire one-year contract. And as for keeping "communications open with the community" Mr. Sprague brusquely rejected the suggestion of an on-line suggestion box saying that in his 40 years of education experience "nothing good has come from a suggestion box."

During the School Committee vote on the suggestion box issue Mr. Decisive distinguished himself by voting No, but admitted: "I guess I'm going to vote against it, even though I support it, even though that's lame."

Churchill was also chair of the Amherst School Committee when the Regional Committee hired Alberto Rodriguez at 20% over the previous Superintendent and he too lasted only 8 months, but is still collecting his generous salary with checks being mailed to Florida.

And no mention that Andy co-writes a bland, milktoast, snoozer of a column for the venerable Amherst Bulletin--although that column has recently been axed.

Since the standards to inclusion now seem somewhat diminished, I'll just nominate my own person, Bill Elsasser. At least his paranoid schizophrenia has no agenda.

Wikipedia reports about all things Amherst

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Amherst's Immigration policy

Amherst Town Meeting will discuss and no doubt pass a slew of warrant articles that increase fines for three ordinances aimed squarely at college students, our transient "visitors" that doubles the population for nine months out of the year and are oftentimes derided by locals for their criminal activities--mainly partying.

But these by-laws (noise, keg license and open container) will raise not a peep of protest--especially compared to the ruckus we are now seeing over the controversial Arizona law simply allowing local cops to enforce federal Immigration policy.

Minorities are more of a PC cause than college students. Maybe because the liberal elite figure college kids are young, smart and independent. And those damn independents don't always vote the party line.

If the Democrats come riding to the rescue on their white horses maybe minorities would be thankful enough to vote Democratic as a thank you. Even though it's the taxpayers who provide all the expensive enticements.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The price of glory

"Horrific," said the Physicians Assistant when she first glanced at the x-ray of my knee. But, after all these years, I kinda knew that.

After a leisurely cross country skiing trek around the Hickory Ridge Golf Course last December a few days after Christmas I drove home and suddenly realized I could barely walk from the car. My left knee felt like somebody inserted an egg scrambler and turned it on high.

She pointed to a ghostly aberration on the film and said it looked to be a 25-30 year old injury. "35" I said, remembering vividly the exact moment it occurred.

In the summer of '75 I was still an up and coming black belt fighter on the New England regional karate tournament circuit. At the time I had only earned a brown belt but tournament promoters did not require verification for whatever division you entered--as long as you paid the entry fee. And I wanted the experience.

The 'New Hampshire State Karate Championships' seemed like a relatively low-key event as karate tournaments go. Much to my surprise, top-rated Wildcat Molina, a bald headed, scary looking, Puerto Rican fighter from New York City had showed up and chewed his way through the middleweight division.

And point karate (kind of like fencing, where judges decide at every clash if a blow was cleanly landed but in so doing momentarily stop the match) was just then transitioning to full contact karate which was scored like boxing in that whoever did the most damage to his opponent wins.

I had won my division and Molina his after four or five fights from a field of perhaps 30 black belts per class--each contest two minutes where the most points wins. But the Grand Champion match between us two divisional winners would be two three-minute rounds continuous full contact. And for me that was a first.

Molina was a typical New York fighter in that he relied on a powerful rear hand strait punch from a pigeon toed stance with hips and shoulders at a 45 degree angle to the opponent. I always stayed completely sideways so my lead side was closer and could deliver kicks and punches faster and more efficiently, although not quite as powerful.

Relying on this reach advantage I used nothing but kicks and lots of them. He kept pressing forward trying to get within reach for that one all-powerful knock out punch. As round two came to a close he was more frustrated than ever and as the timekeeper announced "ten seconds" he started to lung forward as I launched a fear fueled sidekick with all I had and then missed. I felt the knee pop.

I had taken a year off from Umass to train full time, so with no insurance I couldn't afford to see a specialist. The knee hurt for a few months and I hobbled around with a limp that became less and less pronounced over time, but apparently never went away.

The next year I attained #1 in New England and would hold that ranking for six consecutive years. When I first had hip replacement surgery six years ago the Doctor asked if I had ever injured my left knee as it had a permanent bend making the left leg shorter than the right.

So now I'm off to the Cooley Dickinson Hospital joint replacement center to take care of some very old unfinished business...

Notice this was my right leg

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rite of Spring

Amherst Youth Soccer has begun.

And for those too young for the game, Fort River School has a great public playground where little Sis can keep occupied.

Friday, April 23, 2010

To Hell with Babe Ruth--and all religion too

So Comedy Central has allowed South Park to have fun with Christianity over the years--Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and an American flag springs to mind-- but God forbid they mention Muhammad.

Will the cowardly quitter of a corporate CEO now become an equal opportunity censor as long as the group complaining threatens violence?

And of course the irony weighs heavier than Muhammad's mountain: the beyond-bullying threat emanates from a radical extremest website based in New York where the World Trade Center Twin Towers once stood tall and proud, like a beacon of American entrepreneurial spirit.

Freedom of speech is a precious, delicate thing. If not protected at every opportunity and defended against all threats, it loses its lifeblood--one drop at a time. And then we are all lost.

Free Speech is good enough for these Radical Muslims

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Long overdue makeover

So after 20 years of discussion the Atkins Corner $4.6 million roadway project has actually begun. Just in time too, as the Amherst Select Board recently granted Atkins Farms Country Market a beer/wine permit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A better reminder

The family of Misty Bassi have found a most noble way to honor her short life and remember her long after the Ghost Bike disappeared from the location of her horrible demise almost one year ago.

If there is such a thing as a perfect fit for the Happy Valley Misty Bassi was it. Like a lot of folks, Umass was both her place of employ and place for finding herself through education. Now with this scholarship others like her will have a chance to better themselves the same way Misty did, and if life is fair, get the opportunity to put that degree to work.

Only days after graduating from the University Without Walls program while on route to work on Memorial Day--when most Americans were celebrating a day off, her path intersected with a 75-year old woman driving while distracted by tears.

For Misty's friends and family, the tears continue to this day.

The Republican Reports

Monday, April 19, 2010

A somber reminder

Google and of course Google news were not around fifteen years ago, so news junkies like me had to rely on Bricks-and-Mortar Media, and I always preferred radio for pretty much the same live immediacy we now all take for granted with the all-powerful pervasive Internet.

Driving around doing errands that morning while listening to my favorite station (one I advertised on a lot) WRNX, I hear a breaking news bulletin that apparently something has happened at a Federal building in Oklahoma City--an explosion, but no details.

I had fought at a National 'A' rated Karate tournament there (even got to meet Chuck Norris) about dozen years earlier, and unlike a lot of the major cities I visited while on the national circuit, I found it orderly, attractive and felt extraordinarily safe.

Plus I figured foreign terrorists would pick a much higher profile target like New York or Los Angeles. So the original report about an explosion in front of a building named for somebody I never heard of, was easy to dismiss as just some kids with fireworks.

Done with my errands, the Health Club was particularly busy that day so the next thing I know it's 9:00 PM closing. Turning on my TV at home to whatever channel I had watched the night before, up comes the astonishing video of the Murrah Federal Building building devastated to the core.

The next morning's newspapers all carry that heartbreaking AP front page photo of a rescue worker desperately rushing from the scene cradling a mortally wounded infant.

A Harvard trained attorney friend of mine who always opposed the death penalty changed his mind because of Tim McVeigh: His ice cold comment about the day care center deaths of 19 young children, dismissing them "collateral damage" put him over the top.

"I'll fly out there and voluntarily throw the switch myself," he said angrily.

Turns out they used lethal injection to send Mr. McVeigh to his just rewards. On June 11, 2001 as I lay on a cold gurney at the Amherst Medical Center getting my first shot of cortisone in my arthritic left hip, Dr. Johnson said, "You're going to feel a slight prick." "Yeah," I responded, "the last words Tim McVeigh will hear."

The assisting nurse shuddered saying I was the second patient that day to make reference to what was occurring at the US Penitentiary building in Terre Haute, Indiana.

My doctor said the cortisone shot could be a "magic bullet," and if I'm pain free for three months then it probably did the trick.

That summer I had the best bike training ever (logging over 3,000 miles) for my annual ride up Mt. Washington. On August 25, I posted my best time time ever over ten years (one hour 32 minutes) and as I crossed the finish line 6,288 feet up with my wife not to far behind, I literally felt on top of the world.

I had forgotten the exact date of my cortisone shot and mistakenly thought the three months expired, so I had successfully dodged the surgeons knife.

On the morning of 9/11 (the actual three month anniversary) as I watched those magnificent towers crumble into dust, I couldn't help but notice the unmistakeably dull continuous ache in my left hip had returned...

CNN reports

Ten days later on April 29, 1995 Amherst's annual Town Meeting kicked off.

I had placed an article on the Warrant calling requesting tax exempt Amherst College and Hampshire College pay the same reimbursement rates as Umass for ambulance services--not one of my more controversial articles; but I had previously pissed off the Moderator with speeches over the years about Cherry Hill Golf or lambasting those numerous "Only in Amherst" measures Town Meeting routinely passes.

So when I walked up to his podium from my front center seat immediately before Town Meeting was to start, he gave me a wary look. I requested that Town Meeting start tonight with a standing "moment of silence" to remember the victims of Oklahoma City. He frowned. Said something about opening night, particularly busy, lots to do, etc.

I looked at him dumbfounded and trudged back to my seat.

A few moments later Amherst Town Meeting stood in unison, silently bowed their heads and for a brief moment, remembered.

Fox News: The terrible sounds of silence

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let's get licking those stamps

While The People's Republic of Amherst is now at the exact overall national average of 69% return for mailed census forms, we still lag behind our conscientious neighbors like Hadley at 76% or South Hadley at 81% or Granby at 83%.

And I would bet those nearby towns also have a better average voter turnout for their local elections as well.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Up in smoke

Not much going on at the Extravaganja rally around noon today on the Town Common. But with the rain and early hour (for avid pot smokers anyway) not a big surprise.

UPDATE: 5:30 PM Obviously things have picked up.

2 years ago. Obviously nobody checks I.D.s

The Umass Collegian reports (they were the only ones who seemed to care)

Wow! CBS TV paid a visit

Just a little off the top

Friday, April 16, 2010

All roads lead to Florida

The Republican Reports

The Gazette has a hilarious article Friday posted on Catherine Sanderson's blog about former Amherst School Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez resurfacing in Florida after his sudden, less-than-amicable departure from the People's Republic up here in the frigid hinterlands.

Turns out the "undisclosed medical condition" that prompted his unannounced trips to Florida last winter was just a--cue the drumroll--hernia. Lucky for him it was repaired Monday, although he may get another one carrying all his ill gotten gains to the bank.

A-Rod is still receiving full pay through the end of May courtesy of Amherst taxpayers--and already has landed another job as principal at Coral Shores High School in Key West. Hired by old pal Joseph Burke, former Springfield School Superintendent pretty much fired by the State Control Board two years ago.

The Springfield School Committee met in secret to extend Burke's contract but the Control Board axed it. For the good of the system, Burke did not file suit and flew south where he obviously landed on his feet.

No big surprise Superintendent Burke would embrace Alberto--after all, Burke was a reference for him when he applied to Amherst. They have concocted a good cover story for his brief tortured tenure in Amherst: the evil School Committee "criticized him about vacation and sick time." Hmm...I thought that was me and the evil blogosphere?!

Plus they cited the women who threatened last summer to burn her tax bill in front of Rodriguez's office to protest his lavish contract. Yeah, gotta watch those women armed with a lighter.

Burke, a white guy, also clumsily plays the race card by pointing out Regional School Committee members who originally hired A-Rod left their positions and were replaced by members who "were not comfortable with him."

I guess from now on whenever the Regional School Committee hires a Superintendent (and apparently that will be a year from now) they should hold a quiet retreat W-A-Y out in the woods of Pelham and, you know, get to like each other. Kumbaya.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

All Roads Lead to South Hadley

UPDATE 9:00 PM So the venerable Republican did a (slow) live blog of the meeting and to no surprise the system closed in to protect itself. School Committee Chair Edward J. Boisselle cut off the first speaker saying he was being "offensive".

And when main critic Luke Gelinas publicly asked for Superintendent Gus Sayer, and high school Principal Daniel T. Smith to resign or be fired the School Chair threw him out of the meeting. By meeting close the diffident School Committee failed to take any action on sanctioning school employees for failing to protect 15-year-old Phoebe Prince.

I have a feeling this is F-A-R from over.

Tonight's South Hadley School Committee meeting should be nothing if not interesting--a real shootout at the OK Corral.

I'll put my money on critic Darby O'Brien--not just because he's Irish or a Public Relations pro--but because he's right. And righteousness will not be denied. The point man is usually first to draw fire.

Of course I've been there a few times myself--what with the Amherst Select Board mulling a Muzzle Larry Kelley ordinance.

What public officials the world over never seem to understand is that passionate critics--even the ones who shoot from the hip--are motivated from their very core. Perhaps, in this case, the reason South Hadley officials don't get it is because they themselves sorely lack a core.

The Springfield Republican reports

Monday, April 12, 2010

You can always go..

Why God invented the Power of the Blog

So you have to wonder how many folks at home we're still watching three hours into last week's Select Board meeting when the Town Manager gave this soliloquy.

A blog is exactly the place for this kind of "transparent" information, access to answers (not that the Town Manager ever responded on his blog) without the bother of numerous phone calls. The Town Manager started his blog over two years ago with great fanfare and managed to average 1.25 posts per month in his rookie year, falling to 1 per month the next year and now averaging 1 every three months.

But hey, what do you expect for a lousy $128,000 per year.

Mr. Shaffer's seldom used platform

Saturday, April 10, 2010

NIMBYs on the attack

So the property was plenty big enough--parking included--for Harkness Road High School, a private, non-profit, co-ed day school established 1987 in what was formerly a retail poultry business situated on five acres.

They educated students in grades seven through twelve, utilizing 2,400 square feet (four rooms) of class space, and averaged approximately 20 students each year.

But now suddenly traffic is an issue with a Mosque? Especially a Mosque in the People's Republic of Amherst where attendance is expected to be two to five people coming for daily prayers, up to 10 people for night prayers and around 50 people attending Friday services, which take place at 1 p.m.

And interestingly the immediate long-time neighbor to the property is a commercial welding business.

But hey, at least the fifty or so complainers are not playing the terrorist card--at least not yet.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Space Pod lands in Hadley!

Probably about the ONLY thing that would attract the same media attention as the Phoebe Prince suicide story.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The media

travels in packs.

This was more than apparent this morning in front of the Juvenile Courthouse in Hadley Center for the arraignment of three juveniles in the Phoebe Prince bullying case that has taken on the aura of the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

Can you imagine how much it costs for those satellite vans and support staff? These days some yokel like me with a $100 point-and-shoot digital camera, $250 netbook and a Wifi connection can do it all instantaneously.

Moo Moos in the mist

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Good old Boys in the People's Repubic

So the interim Amherst Regional School Superintendent Maria Geryk--appointed by a less than unanimous vote of the Regional School Committee (overly dominated by minority hilltowns) after the sudden firing/leave of Alberto Rodriguez--only 8 months into his luxurious 3 year contract--announced on their web page this afternoon that Amherst insider Michael Hayes was appointed as the new school Principal for the Regional Middle School--what we townies called "Jr. High School" back in the day.

Hayes was passed over in 2008 by Golden Boy Superintendent Jere Hochman in favor of Glenda Cresto who was fired/bullied into leaving this past September by Hochman replacement Alberto Rodriguez who also inexplicably recently walked the plank.

Hayes has vastly far less experience than the other (outside) contender, Karsten Schlenter.

Interestingly the Amherst School Committee was supposed to meet last night but cancelled at the last minute because paid professional school officials failed to provide important budget documents 48 hours in advance of the meeting (sounds like Amherst Town Meeting.)

So this important position was filled without any advance notice/discussion with the elected School Committee--you know, the folks who are supposed to be in charge.

Thus, kind of like the Captain of the Titanic turning over command to a Cabin Boy an hour after bumping into that iceberg.

Sorry about that Chief

Click to enlarge/read
UPDATE 11: AM : Already heard back from the State (gotta love email):

-----Original Message-----
From: Shallow, Joanne (SEC)
Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 9:44 am
Subject: RE: Public Documents Appeal

Where is your copy of your written request for the documents?

Did the custodian respond by e-mail? Is the attachment you sent to this office the original response from the custodian, or did you copy it?

Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 11:17 am
Subject: Re: Public Documents Appeal

My original written request (via email) is at the bottom of this string dated 3/15/10 9:21 AM
The custodian's response (via email) is above that dated 3/25/10 4:57 PM (which I believe is a day late)
Yes, this was all done via the Web.

I probably should have just sent you my blog upload that time date stamps everything (and is rather public):


From: Shallow, Joanne (SEC)
Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 1:20 pm
Subject: RE: Public Documents Appeal

I will open an appeal for you. What is the mailing address for Mr. Hajir for hard copy?

Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 1:38 pm
Subject: Re: Public Documents Appeal

Hey Joanne,

Hmm...that's a good question. Since he is an elected volunteer who lives outside Amherst, I'm not sure about his home address. Probably should just mail to: Amherst Regional High Schoo,l 21 Mattoon Street, Amherst, Ma. 01002
c/o Amherst Regional School Committee


So I guess in addition to a copy editor I could also use a secretary. I did just now go back to the Secretary of State's webpage and found an email address for the Supervisor of Records and resent my original complaint, and the Regional Committee Chair Farshid Hajir response/denial (which was a day late) all nicely time/date stamped.

Ah, the convenience of the Web.

Should have just sent them my original upload

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Princess Stephanie recrowned

So if this looks a little awkward and orchestrated that's because it was. But hey, the Open Meeting Law allows for public officials to kibitz behind the scenes as long as it only involves "housekeeping."

For those of you new to the ongoing antics of the People's Republic, Stephanie O'Keeffe rose from complete obscurity to the venerable Amherst Select Board mainly via her groundbreaking blog "Stephanie's Town Meeting Experience".

Then after I took out former SB Czar Anne Awad, who was replaced in a mid-year election by Aaron Hayden, she orchestrated a coup d'├ętat and cut off His Lordship Gerry Weiss's, errr...knees and ascended the throne.

Now she's been reelected. All hail the queen. Also worthy to note that we now have a sitting majority of Select Board members "elected" without having any competition in the election.

The good old days

White Elephants: the same all over the country

Another losing Amherst golf course (New York)

Funny how public recreation folks all think alike. Ten years ago the now defunct Cherry Hill Golf Advisory Committee wanted to a borrow millions to replace the condemned clubhouse with a Taj Mahal like structure including 5 star restaurant.

Fortunately that was downsized to a $286,000 loan for a Wal Mart quality Clubhouse that still managed to overrun its budget by 30% and a new irrigation system. The Finance Committee promised the improvements would lead to revenues falling from the heavens like manna; and of course Cherry Hill then went into its seven-year tailspin averaging over $100-K losses per year.

Now-a-days capital improvements (that are charged to a separate part of the town budget so it does not show up as an operation cost of the business) are limited to little things like the $15,000 two years ago for a security fence and above ground fuel storage tank.

Not sure if the security fence is to protect from terrorists detonating the storage tank, or just a visual screen so Hilda Greenbaum doesn't complain about the industrial view. But that open space looks big enough to drive a golf cart through...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fire in the hole!

12:20 PM

And I thought Amherst elections were hot.

To Hell with the taxpayers

Click to read (and weep)

So at least the Budget Coordinating Group is recommending Amherst Town Meeting stick it to the voters "with extreme care and thoughtful deliberation."

Yeah, the old, just a spoonful of sugar help the cyanide go down routine.

The School Committee votes to spend money out of their cool $1 million in reserves after the Override rather than before, the Teachers Union votes a $350,000 contract giveback dependent on the Override passing and town officials promised that if more state aid came in--which it appears will happen--that they would not tax to the full extent of the levy.

Ahhhh, but nobody apparently can speak for Town Meeting. Next time folks, hold on to your wallets (or purses as the case may be.)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Gus Sayer: "Just go. I don't care how. Just go."

So in spite of being a private sector kind of guy, I know how CYA (Cover Your Ass) works.

I too, was guilty a few days ago when I first posted my reaction to the horrific South Hadley suicide by a young Irish immigrant girl, choosing to question why the DA came back so quickly with indictments against the brats involved with bullying teen-ager Phoebe Prince, but taking her sweet time with an incident in Amherst last year where a two-year-old died under the wheels of a school bus, eventually ruled an accident.

Thus demonstrating the Northwestern District Attorney is nothing if not conservative in the careful sense.

But if you are going to indict the pack of juvenile brats who drove young Phoebe Prince to suicide, then why not the paid professional adults who stood by and did nothing? And is sounds like, with Scheibel's use of the term "troubling" for their behavior, that she came pretty damn close.

My self-interested concern is that one persons bullying is another persons banter. And having been on the receiving end of Amherst Town officials trying to have me arrested for suggesting a town official should be removed from office because she no longer lived in town (eventually proven true), or another chief official railing against my "chilling effect" on his governmental board because of my respect for the Open Meeting Law, I'm just a tad sensitive to incidents sending us down that slippery slope to censorship.

Speaking of censorship, Gus Sayer when he was Amherst School Superintendent in 1999 first reacted to the tempest in a teapot about the Amherst Regional High School performing 'West Side Story' and being accused of racism responded unequivocally quick: "No group, neither in the majority nor in the minority, should have the ability to censor the decisions our community’s educators make about what to teach, what to read, or what to produce on the stage."
A few days later he collapsed like a cheaply constructed Chinese school building in an earthquake, allowing the even wimpier High School Principal Scott Goldman to cancel the play--the only time in history such sacrilege would occur.

Two years later Sayer hires Steven Myers as the new principal--at $85,000 annually--to lead the Amherst Regional High School, who at least by physical appearance is gay (Not, as Seinfeld would say, "That there's anything wrong with that."). In the People's Republic of Amherst certainly worth extra credit.

Soon thereafter a mother complained that Meyers propositioned her 15-year-old son, asked him to remove his shirt to expose his breasts, invited him out to a movie, and for a soak in his hot tub.

Superintendent Sayer took the charges seriously enough to hire a lawyer and undertake an investigation of his own, thus he was then duty bound to file a report with the Department of Social Services (G.L.c.119, 51A). He did not--at least not until the news broke and created a firestorm.

Sayer told Myers that if incident became public his Principal job would be “untenable."

This all occurred in January, 2002. Daily Hampshire Gazette digging and Amherst PD uncovered Myers had been under investigation in Colorado for pedophilia and Mass Department of Social Services stepped in and removed his recently adopted 8-year-old boy. Mr Meyers was never charged, disappeared, and has not been heard from since.

Mr Sayer soon "retired" after 14 years as Superintendent of the Amherst Regional High School, but quickly assumed the post at South Hadley High School following in the footsteps of Michael Smith whose brother Dan is still Principal. The 'Good Old Boys' network.

And they rest as they sadly say, "is history." A young girl who immigrated here from from Ireland, after continuous verbal battering, wraps a scarf given to her as a Christmas present by her sister only three weeks earlier around her neck to end the torment the only way she knows how. She was only 15.

At age 67, Gus Sayer is certainly traditional "old school" when it comes to running a publicly funded education empire. Time to head out to pasture. Actually, that time --too late for Phoebe Prince--was a long time ago.

Phoebe speaks

Slate Magazine strongly hints Gus should go

An Irish paper reports

Friday, April 2, 2010

Opportunity lost

Since Town Manager Larry Shaffer champions the relationship with our "good friends" at Umass, and since he crafted a fairly useless five-year strategic agreement with them a few years back, and since he is now talking about a $12 million new fire station in South Amherst with renovations to North Station (on land donated by Umass) and Umass is currently constructing a $12.5 million police station immediately next door why couldn't he have worked out a deal to merge the projects thus creating a joint Public Safety building?

What the Hell, nearby sits the monster $10 million heating plant that never threw a BTU of heat. So Tilson Farm has plenty of space available.

Umass news flacks report

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Urban Renewal

The Amherst Redevelopment Authority will take historical Town Hall in downtown center by Eminent Domain and sell it to private local developer Barry Roberts.

One of the main goals of the ARA is to stimulate the economy and reduce blight. Since not much happens at Town Hall this action falls well within the ARA purview. Although the Amherst Select Board, who meet weekly in Town Hall, also possesses the power of Eminent Domain and is chaired by Stephanie O'Keeffe, daughter of ARA Chair John Coull.

Next Thanksgiving should be interesting in that household...

"The Vagina Monologues": Third time is the charm

Amherst School Czar Mark Jackson (Principal of both the Regional High School and Middle School) announced that Amherst Regional High School would once again perform the "The Vagina Monologues" next Valentine's Day.

But this time, the play will also be used as sex education curriculum in the Middle School for a full year culminating with a joint performance next February. No indication of which school student gets to perform the "Reclaiming Cunt" monologue.

Jackson will also lead a one-man bullying seminar using his pernicious performance at the public 3/9 School Committee meeting--where he brow beat School Committee member Catherine Sanderson--as a perfect example of overly dominating male behavior.

Town Mangler says sayonara

One of the better kept secrets in town now appears outed: Town Manager Larry Shaffer announced his marriage to former full-time critic Dave Keenan and both have placed their respective abodes up for sale.

Unconfirmed rumors say they will live temporarily with former Select Board Czar Anne Awad and her husband former Amherst Selectman Robie Hubley in South Hadley, repository for so many cast off Amherst town officials.

Political pundits had been scratching their heads over Mr. Keenan not running for Select Board this past March 23rd (as tenth time is the charm.)

A new saddle for a dying horse

The Select Board approved Town Manager Larry Shaffer's capital request for infrastructure improvements at the Cherry Hill Golf Course, completely enclosing the nine-hole business under a weatherproof dome. The $25 million project will be paid for with state and federal grants and--everybody's favorite Manna from Heaven--Community Preservation Act money.

"Now golfers will not have to go to Florida in the winter to get their weekly fix," said the Town Mangler.

H in Amherst comes out of the closet

After 250 years of proudly silencing the h in Amherst--thus exposing carpetbaggers, rookies and ne'er do wells only migrating here for the money or cute co-eds, town officials unanimously approved a by-law requiring the maligned letter of the alphabet be given full rights and respect when it comes to pronouncing the People's Republic of Amherst.