Saturday, June 25, 2011

Where were they then?

Today's Daily Hampshire Gazette has an above-the-fold, long-form "investigative" story about the residency of our elected register of deeds Marianne Donohue, who lives a fair amount of time away from her current husband in Florida with her ex-husband in a house located on Bridge Road in Northampton to qualify as a "resident" of the district she has served for 22 years, with a current salary of $90,000.

But where was the Gazette three years ago when Amherst Select Board member Anne Awad and her town meeting member husband Robie Hubley purchased an expensive home in South Hadley, left their condo on North East Street abandoned and up for sale and had even declared that South Hadley home as a primary residence in a legal homestead declaration filed at the registry of deeds, but still wanted to maintain their elected town positions in Amherst?

In fact the Amherst Bulletin even printed a Letter to the Editor from the wayward couple claiming they had not realized a homestead declaration was equivalent to admission of "principal residence" so they had refiled a new homestead declaration back on the Amherst condo.

A simple check of the exceedingly accurate land records website proved that statement a lie.

When I took a photo of Ms. Awad from a public road tending to her garden in that South Hadley home I was accused of stalking and the Amherst Select Board even considered passing a public motion sternly reprimanding me.

Strangely enough the only support I received besides the Masslive article came from the left of center Valley Advocate who awarded me a "halo" that year for my investigative reports.

Today's front page Gazette article also includes a photo of the house Ms Donohue occupies while living in the district. Although she did not react quite the same way as Ms. Awad, she did note that "who needs a reporter calling me and asking where I live?"

And the answer is: the people who pay your salary have a right to know.


Anonymous said...

Hopefully, the word "stalking" will be forever banished from local political discourse.

Is it possible that the Gazette featured this story BECAUSE of that story they missed years before?

Let us always remember the Awad regime and its various forms of nonsense as a cautionary tale going forward.

LarryK4 said...

Good points. The bricks-and-mortar media (as well as us cyber sleuths) love irony; and Ms. Donohue is in charge of the "registry of deeds".

Anonymous said...

Bah, these are only roaches.

Now, where did I put my extra strong Amherst blend Prozac?

Anonymous said...

Larry, this is just one of the many reasons I will be supporting Bonnie McCracken Bascomb for Register of Deeds.

We need new, honest people in government who know what the rules are and how to keep them.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you'll get any honest politicians, but it may make them think before they act if they know thier jobs on the line.
I love politicians that are caught red handed and still won't step down like they have some god given right to break the rules and laws.

Anonymous said...

What constitutes "residency" in the 21st Century?

Remember that this is a legacy of when you had property requirements for voting -- not only did you have to reside in the town but also own a certain amount of real property (ie be paying a certain amount of property tax) in order to vote. (In order to run for any public office in the town as well.)

As we go to an increasingly mobile society, with what literally are multiple residencies -- we have a growing dualistic schism in two dimensions. First, there are those who pay property tax (either directly, through an escrow on their mortgage, or through their rent -- and those with Section 8 vouchers who only pay a set percentage of their income regardless of how high the property tax goes.

Some pay, some don't.

Then there are those who can deduct their property tax from their income tax (and enjoy a significant reduction in the latter) and those who can't/won't -- those who are retired, lower income/larger families, or who rent and pay their property tax through higher rental rates.

Some pay but get it back, some don't -- and never forget that the latter includes the students.

So what this means is that the original concept of residence for public office -- that voters were voting to spend their OWN money (and not someone else's), that elected officials were husbanding THEIR OWN money, is now a moot issue.

That is why we have the problems we do -- if we went to Vince OC and said "sorry, you aren't paying property taxes, you can't vote" -- if we went to the college kids and said that we expected them to vote on the town (read "police") budget because they *are* paying property taxes, (as the Greeks did) -- well we would have a very different community, wouldn't we?

Anonymous said...

Now, where did I put my extra strong Amherst blend Prozac?

No, Wellbutrin, not Prozac -- the atypical antidepressants also act as a psychostimulant so you have the energy to go to your mailbox and pick up all your welfare checks -- something that Prozac (a SSRI) lacks. And it is one thing to be a lay-about, it is another not to be getting all that free money...

Now Wellbrutrin does have this nasty effect of lowering the seizure threshold which explains the Amherst Town Meeting...

Anonymous said...

Lemme guess, Anon. 12:00 p.m., you work for the Amherst Welcome Wagon?