Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Amherst Inquisition nears the end

Carol Gray center (hiding behind monitor) Pat Holland (Chair) to her right, Sarah McKee to her left.

UPDATE: 5:00 PM. So the original post went up just before high noon. The meeting went from 9:00 until 10:03 AM. Somebody sent me a PDF of the full Jones Library Trustees minutes from 3/19/10 and since I'm having so much fun with Google Docs I floated them for your perusal. Down at the bottom of the original post.
The Jones Library Evaluation Subcommittee met this morning and spent the entire hour drafting a letter to the Springfield Republican demanding corrections on an article published last week covering their previous meeting.

And since this particular item was not on the agenda, a rather clear violation of the new-and-improved Open Meeting Law, which requires any issue to be discussed should appear on the agenda 48 hours before the meeting.

Attorney Carol Gray was concerned about reporter Diane Lederman quoting Select Board member Alisa Brewer calling the meeting "bizarre" for going into executive session to discuss the "process" of skewering longtime Library Director Bonnie Isman.

Ms. Gray was particularly upset the reporter did not mention that they went into executive session under the written advice of town council, although later in the meeting seemed to indicate that they could have done that business in open session thus making it public.

And Ms. Gray essentially called fellow Trustee Chris Hoffmann a liar for telling the reporter that in a conversation at their 4/23 meeting Ms. Gray stated she had researched the library director's time of service and amount of retirement benefits accrued and hoped the Director would indeed retire rather than "take on" the subcommittee.

Mr Hoffmann was in the room but since there was no "public comment" on the agenda was ruled out of order a few times by Ms. Gray and Chair Pat Holland. In their letter, the subcommittee calls the quote "very mean spirited" and denies it was ever made.

Classic case of he-said she-said.

Their "Final Report" will be presented to the entire Jones Library Board of Trustees at the August 10th meeting under the cloak of an executive session. Tonight the full board meets and apparently a petition from former Trustee Nancy Gregg will be presented during public comment period. Safe bet it defends longtime Library Director Bonnie Isman.

Also tonight they will discuss the Open Meeting Law and consider whether Ms. Gray can participate in meetings via Skype (instant video conferencing) as she is headed to Egypt soon for an extended period.

A few years back the state ruled that committee members cannot participate in meetings via speakerphone, so the current rule still in effect does not allow "remote participation".

But since the Attorney General is now in charge of Open Meeting Law, it will be interesting to see how she rules on this--although that may take six months or more.

I'm sure at this point, the Jones Library can get along just fine without Ms. Gray.

The subcommittee dissecting media reports of their last meeting. Library Trustee Chris Hoffmann seated center audience

The Springfield Republican Reported

Minutes from the 3/19/10 Trustees board which speak volumes!


Anonymous said...

Egypt? Gee, when I prayed for the far ends of the Earth I didn't think it would actually work. Lord, I'll never doubt you again. Now, while she's there could you get another plague of locusts or something?

Anonymous said...

Carol Gray is going to Egypt to confer with he asps?

Anonymous said...

Quick! Someone call Al-Jazeera and tell them that an infidel is heading over. They'll leak it to al Qaeda.

LarryK4 said...

Well, considering she voted against flying US flags to commemorate those Americans slaughtered on 9/11, they may just consider her a soulmate.

Anonymous said...

There are no soul-mates for Amherst's core elites... because they're absolutely soulless beings.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

maybe Amherst will wake up. Our school committee/regional school committee is quite dysfunctional. Now our library trustees seem to be equally at each other's throats. Thank goodness for the Select Board which seems oddly content and functional.

regardless, a recall process sounds pretty good right about now....

Anonymous said...

Wanting to serve via Skype.

What does this tell us about this person?

George Goodwin's letter in today's Gazette says it all. There are serious limitations in what Gray et al can hear from outside of their little huddle.

Anonymous said...

"Thank goodness for the Select Board which seems oddly content and functional."


Anonymous said...


Take some of your tween daughter's Prozac, get you back in the Amherst game...

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure she can participate but is not counted for a quorum.

Anonymous said...

If she comes back and runs for Select Board, we'll know that she stopped off at Mount Sinai while she was over there.

Good luck getting her to listen to anyone outside of her close circle of friends then.

Anonymous said...

Just look at that first picture...

Those are not from this planet.

Anonymous said...

the meeting minutes link doesn't work; says the page/document is not available. have you been silenced? did she skype her way in?

LarryK4 said...

Sorry, forgot to check off make document public for all to see (I was in a hurry).

Should work now.

Anonymous said...

Jason Vassell's legal ordeal is finally over.

I'm proud to tell you that the long legal ordeal of Jason Vassell—the young African-American man charged with much more serious crimes than his white assailants in a UMass Amherst dormitory two and a half years ago—is finally over.

Despite overwhelming evidence of an unprovoked and racially motivated attack on a black student by two intoxicated white non-students, the investigation focused almost immediately on Vassell. One police officer even asserted that Vassel was a drug dealer, without any evidence for this.

Read more about the case of Jason Vassell here.

The dismissal of this case is a huge win, but the incident and too many others remind us that racism is alive and well.

From the arrest last summer of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., after police confronted him trying to open the front door to his own home, to the Arizona law that requires police to racially profile people they think might not have the right to be in the country—thankfully blocked last week in federal court—the work to ensure racial justice must continue.

Carol Rose
Executive Director
ACLU of Massachusetts

Anonymous said...

LarryK4 said...

Yes, and let's hope that IF Michael A. Cahillane becomes our next DA, he learned something from this experience.