Since all politics is local and Only In Amherst is a hyper-local news blog, I'm duty bound to do that routine Main Stream Media thing and--in spite of Satchel Paige's cogent advice--reminisce over the past year, as painful as that may be.
The death of the Gateway Corridor Project, a unique coalition between Amherst, UMass and the Amherst Redevelopment Authority to significantly enhance the main entryway to UMass connecting with our downtown, had the potential to add $75 million in mixed use, high end development to our anemic tax base.
Killed by NIMBYs who feared a resurrection of the notorious Frat Row, which ten or twenty years ago could have served as a location set for an "Animal House" remake. And as an outspoken member of the ARA who never missed one of the dozens of meetings we had over the past year, it's hard not to award this debacle the most important local political news event of the year.
If the local spring election has a Prop 2.5 Override or Charter change of government question, that usually is the political story of the year. But this past election we, thankfully, had no Override or, regrettably, no Charter question, no contested races for Select Board (our highest office) or School Committee (our most revered office) so voter turnout was a pathetic 8.5%.
But still, that election is the backdrop for my political story of the year--only because Catherine Sanderson was not on the ballot. She was battered and bullied into not returning her nomination papers--duly signed by over 50 registered voters--simply because she had the temerity to expose the emperor and empress had no clothes, and did not look particularly attractive naked.
Closing Mark's Meadow (boutique) Elementary School, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, alone should nominate her for sainthood.
But her real power to stir the pot like an outboard motor and actually make change (and I'm not even sure she ever realized this) was the power of her blog, that so frightened town officials from Amherst and the surrounding region they actually petitioned the District Attorney to shut it down. My God.
The 10/29 nor'easter starkly reminded us of the awesome power of Mother Nature, and a blog done right is another formidable force of nature. My School Committee Blog was so very right.