Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amherst's Political tragedy of the year

10/29 storm: overall story of the year

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.

Catherine Sanderson

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I miss her blog, and her ability to see through the school system and how it runs without any outside oversight. Miss you Catherine.
Ali

Amh obserrver said...

Larry, Sanderson gave almost as much as she got in the bullying department. She was a strong person, and not likely to back down because of bullying. Save the "poor, wounded soul" for someone who truly deserves it, which is barely anyone in Amherst, and certainly no one on the School Committee

LarryK4 said...

Yes she is plenty strong, but she's also a mother with children in the school system.

And whey they become subject to collateral damage...

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between being plain spoken and bullying -- and I can't seem to remember Marc Jackson physically assaulting anyone else. Yes, folks, that is what the principal of your high school did.

I have seen this happen throughout the state -- a concerned and well educated parent, usually female, goes on to the board in an attempt to make a difference and the School Establishment lynches her for it.

The result is what they have in California -- which is probably where we will wind up...

Anonymous said...

They shut down the debate, which is what they wanted.

Steve said...

If someone rocks the boat, brings up truths you don't want to hear or reach the light of day,, the committees in town will shut you up one way or another

Anonymous said...

She was battered and bullied into not turning in her nomination papers????? My understanding is that she read the writing on the wall and could see clearly that she was going to lose and that is why she did not turn in her papers.

Catherine Sanderson was battered and bullied???? Who are you kidding? She was the worst bully this town has seen in many many years.

And Anon 1:07 AM, please give us a specific time and place when Mark Jackson PHYSICALLY assaulted Catherine Sanderson. If you cannot provide that information then you should retract your statement. And Larry, you should remove that post from this blog. It is defamatory and slanderous. the fact that you posted it says alot about your character, or lack thereof.

LarryK4 said...

Depends on how you define "is".

Anonymous said...

What "is" that comment supposed to mean, Larry?

LarryK4 said...

President Clinton joke.

Anonymous said...

See any discussion going on about educational issues in town these days?

Mission accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Catherine Sanderson was up the food chain from Mark Jackson. Is it really possible to bully up the chain of command? Can an employee bully a boss? Can student bully a teacher? Can a principal really bully a school committee member?
I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Catherine Sanderson was THE WORSE thing to happen to the Amherst schools in a VERY long time.

LarryK4 said...

Said the Cowardly Anon Nitwit.

Anonymous said...

I may be a CAN but what I said is accurate, Nitwit Larry.

LarryK4 said...

If so, then stand behind your statement. Are you afraid she will beat you up? (Although, she probably could.)

Anonymous said...

So one can make statements anonymously only if you, Larry, agree with them?

LarryK4 said...

Even then, I would be far more impressed if they left a name.

Anonymous said...

Bring back the blog about education in amherst! Oh wait, what happened to the Community Supported Education blog? Still on summer break? Why did it stop? Mission accomplished?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, that always struck me as being right up there with (former) Town Manager Larry Shaffer's blog.

Or maybe I should say, way down there...

Anonymous said...

Worst Larry Kelley prediction of 2011:

"Gateway: "Not dead yet!"

LarryK4 said...

Glad you're paying attention. Notice I did add the word "yet".

And quite frankly there will be a Gateway--no question about that.

But it will be done entirely by UMass, and they will do as they damn well please with it.

Quite frankly, it would be exceedingly ironic if they put up another Southwest Tower for undergrads with a tavern on the top floor.

Anonymous said...

Not going to happen, because UMass will listen to their neighbors better than the ego-filled ARA which blew itself to smithereens with talk of eminent domain takings.

LarryK4 said...

And where would Boltwood Walk--including Bangs Community Center, Anne Whalen Apartments, Clark House, and the Parking Garage be without eminent domain takings?

Or, ugh, the Cherry Hill Golf Course for that matter.

Anonymous said...

No one petitioned the DA to shut down CS's website - I believe they asked for an advisory opinion on the matter - just like you do constantly.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, and a least they respond to my requests.

Perhaps I should have written "with the INTENT of shutting down her blog."

Anonymous said...

Or the intent to clarify it was done legally - just as you do all the time.

LarryK4 said...

Hoping and praying that they would decide it was illegal and shut it down.

And we notice how quickly the DA attended to the request, forwarding it to the AG (and then--like their very own happy news school blog--never to be heard from again).

Anonymous said...

And how do you know what they were hoping and praying, Larry.

Typical of you to make blanket statements of truth based on what you THINK they were hoping and praying.

LarryK4 said...

Call it intuition (honed after 40 years of self-defense training).

Anonymous said...

If folks really care about ARPS, they have the opportunity to weigh in and offer their opinion on how Ms. Geryk is doing running the show (http://www.arps.org/). Deadline is January 9th.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone seriously think that the opinions of parents or citizens or even students matter to the school committee or the administration?

Anonymous said...

@ anon jan 2nd 1:49 pm:

there is A LOT, probably MORE, discussion about EDUCATIONAL issues going on now than when cs and sr were on the sc and when sc had her propoganda blog going. It's simply now a civilized discussion without all the bashing and insinuation and anger and snickering and face-making. we're actually talking about EDUCATION and not each other.

perhaps you aren't getting the type or style of information you want so it seems like nothing is happening and no one's discussing anything.

Anonymous said...

in one hundred years people will look back at the tapes of school committee meetings that catherine sanderson and steve rivkin participated in and they will think...

Anonymous said...

larry, will you please explain what you're talking about when you mention that catherine sanderson has children in the public schools, and something about "collateral damage"? did something happen?