Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is anybody listening?

I'm a journalist unafraid to put down the pen or crawl out from behind the keyboard to say what needs to be said. Loudly.

Obviously the Amherst Bulletin is not listening

On September 9 when UMass and town officials alongside District Attorney Dave Sullivan tried to soothe the party hardy behavior patterns exhibited by a hard core minority of students by handing out oatmeal cookies (I kid you not) the Gazette/Bulletin assigned veteran reporter Nick Grabbe to cover the late night "story"--what is usually referred to in journalism as a "puff piece."

Meanwhile, simultaneously in the north end of campus, the Meadow Street riot occurred. The next day the Gazette carried the cookie caper story on the front page.


Steve said...

Amen Larry
But I'm afraid it will take something tragic to happen before people wake up

LarryK4 said...

And like the drunk driver who survives a head on crash that takes out an entire family, it always seems to be the innocent ones who pay the price.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you support Newt for President, Larry. You are a little bit like him. Never miss an opportunity to say "Look at me! Look at me!!!"

LarryK4 said...

Said the Cowardly Anon Nitwit who does hide under his keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! Thank you for speaking up for countless Amherst tax payers.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any suggestions for what the Select Board should do?

LarryK4 said...

They can start by using their elected position as a "bully pulpit" to send the loud and clear message that we, the citizens, are "mad as Hell and we're not going to take it anymore."

Use the Nuisance House bylaw to fine slumlords in the same way that we're using it to crack down on the offending students.

Put pressure on UMass to expel repeat offenders.

Suggest UMass not reduce weekend hours at Health Services.

Add staff to AFD and APD.

Bryan Quinlan said...

vote cowardly nitwit larry for president!


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you lost me at the word journalist. You are not a journalist anymore than the blow hard that always stands up at any meeting to pontificate is a philosopher.

LarryK4 said...

Anons are easy to lose--especially the Cowardly Nitwit kind.

Anonymous said...

word on the streets of umass is that it is now an outstanding challenge to make party house of the week! so another solution could be to stop creating a spectacle of something that will not change no matter what you do.

college students, especially meatheads like get accepted to umass, love to get wasted. you will never change that. never ever ever never ever

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, let's not talk about drunk driving, rape or child abuse because it may encourage it all the more.


Anonymous said...

Way to speak up Larry.

Unfortunately, the reality is that almost every town's emergency response system will find itself resource-depleted at some point in time. Few tax payers want to fork over the extra cash to keep extra firefighters and EMTs on duty as insurance against a rare mass-casualty incident or "perfect storm" disaster; one in which all the town's emergency units will be out on calls and during which it must call for mutual aid.

I imagine (or at least hope) that at some point in time Amherst did have the optimal number of FF/Paramedics to find itself in this type of situation to occur only a few times throughout the year. Clearly, it no longer does.

As a student at UMass I am disappointed that my school's administration has not only failed to make an honest effort to resolve this crisis, but has also made steps to reduce our university's health services.

I respect that as a tax-payer your emphasis is on the citizens of Amherst who are paying for emergency coverage they are not receiving. Just don't forget that the student population is also at risk when all the ambulances are out, and our school administrators seem to be OK with it.

Some of us are just as concerned as you. Unfortunately, as mere students we do not have the power to force the school and town bigwigs to work out a solution.

Anonymous said...

Larry - the more you call people names the less respect I have for you - you are no journalist.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I was the highest paid columnist for the Amherst Bulletin (not too hard since most of them were unpaid) for 14 years.

Mind if I call you an Anon?

Anonymous said...

Yesterday's college student wanted to change the world.

Today's college student wants us simply to turn a blind eye to their misbehavior because they "love to get wasted", and to simply suck it up and write the check for the emergency services to save their lives and protect their health.

Your tax dollars at work to educate tomorrow's leaders.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon at 7pm

Close-minded people like you are why this issue is not getting resolved.

Stop trying to blame the problem on the students acting irresponsibly and "wanting to get wasted".

Are college kids naive and reckless?


Is this ever going to change?

NO. (Gasp, can you believe the nerve of my generation?!) However, those who refuse to learn from their mistakes deserve reprimand. (If the hospital and ambulance bill is not enough)

Take the time to remember that every generation has thought the world will come to ruins when the younger one takes the reins.

These ETOH-ers aren't any different than the local home owner who walks out onto his icy steps and slips. Does than man deserve to be left out to dry because he was a little careless? Absolutely not.

Do college freshmen deserve to be left to die (yes, ETOH can cause aspiration) because of their naivety? Because they don't pay taxes to Amherst? Because both the town and the schools are choosing to put this issue on the back burner?

I'm sorry, but you are taking your "Townie vs college brat" sentiment a little too far here. Not every issue has to be black and white, right and wrong... as much as your politicians and media companies like to use that ploy to their advantage.

Anonymous said...

I really think the University ought to expel students who participate in a riot. And, yes, we don't want to see students die from alcohol poisoning. We have children ourselves (and were students once too).

I also think fining the landlords would help too.

Anonymous said...

here here! 11:27

LarryK4 said...

I think there's a big difference between a homeowner slipping on ice and a young adult drinking themselves to a point requiring medical intervention.

Although yes, in both cases you hope they learn from it and take measures to keep it from happening again.

Rescue crews in popular climbing areas are now billing tourists for their rescue if they get themselves into a bad situation by making bad decisions.

But I do question Anon 7:00 PM calling the repeat offenders "tomorrow's leaders."

Not if their prospective boss (or the voters) google search their names and up comes their Party House resume.

Anonymous said...

It really disturbs me that you take such glee and pleasure in ruining a young person's life forever. Sure, they should suffer consequences for their actions right now. But to intentionally post their names on your blog with the goal of making it so they will not be able to get a job in the future is disturbing and childish at the same time.

These are youthful indiscretions that I am sure they will rue when they are older and wiser. To have them impact their lives until their dying day is just plain mean and vindictive. It says alot about your character, Larry.

LarryK4 said...

And posting your comment as an Anon says a lot about your character.

As cops would say, "Don't do the crime if you can't pay the time." (while humming the tune "Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What ya gonna do.")

And maybe you should take it up with the Gazette and Springfield Republican as well.

Anonymous said...

Journalist or blogger?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anon 11:27 p.m., for that detailed tour through your sense of entitlement.

Anonymous said...

Every day seems to bring news of a public safety worker, usually a fireman or a police officer, dying in the line of duty somewhere in America.

It's time to make September 11th every year a holiday to honor those who have died on duty to protect the public's safety. The essence of that day for me is the public spirit of the many men and women who dutifully went into those towers in 2001 after all the trouble started.

I know that some will argue that we have enough holidays already, and that the great business machine must grind on. We're seeing already that Thanksgiving is being encroached upon for certain retail workers as they get ready at steadily earlier times each year for the Black Friday buying frenzy.

OK, say, we close businesses on September 11th until noontime. However we do it, we still need real holidays to stop and think and reflect on those who have sacrificed for us. The deaths of cops and firefighters are becoming too much of a regular, accepted thing.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

Larry, calling "anons" out into the street for some kind of ego-duel just makes you look even more childish.

"Nitwit" left most of our vocabularies somewhere in elementary school. It's time to move on, big guy.

LarryK4 said...

Just what I need, more advice from an Anon.

uninformed local said...

Anon 11:27: "These ETOH-ers aren't any different than the local home owner who walks out onto his icy steps and slips."

Um, there's a big difference. The homeowner slipped on ice. To my knowledge no one does that voluntarily. The ETOH-ers drank themselves into a puking stupor. That's voluntary.

Anonymous said...

Stop pretending. You know, I know, and everyone who reads this blog or was at that meeting knows that your "concern" is just another manifestation of your resentment for those "those damned college kids". First they take your precious sleep, then they take your ambulances. We get it, Larry. The one thing that even puts this town on the map also makes it a little bit harder to live in.

You're not fooling anyone. Stick to your "nuisance house" and beer can photography. They are more honest, even if they are a tad pathetic. Heck, I may even scatter some beer cans scattered around town just to give you some fresh "material".

LarryK4 said...

Actually they don't take my precious sleep. I live next to the DPW, a "party free zone."

Harry schafter said...

how many millions of dollars of commerce do students bring to town a year?

not enough,let the drunkards die.

LarryK4 said...

That's the problem Bach, somebody is going to die.

And not because they were intentionally denied service either.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:43 pm:

You just don't get it. You can isolate this problem with Larry, but the reality is that the behavior of students has alienated permanent residents all over town.

What's the fiscal and political importance of that? Well, the insistence on students poisoning themselves with alcohol (no, NOT a long-standing tradition in this college town, despite the claim otherwise) and the need for EMTs to respond to those students leaves the community remarkably naked for emergency services at certain times of day. No, it's not about you; it's really about public safety and our ability to pay for the services we (and you) need.

Secondly, the insistence by residents that they don't want large numbers of students living near them (and everyone has a horror story to tell) means that we cannot build beautiful, attractive housing for students off-campus that would add to the tax base. We cannot get the necessary votes in Town Meeting for such projects because you have so successfully pissed off the people of the Town. You may not realize that we have a tax base problem here, that all of your purchases in our private sector cannot relieve.

So Larry's "Angry Man" routine tends to disguise his intentions as "Practical Political Actor". And the only place where the dialogue goes on is here, on his blog, now that the Commentary page in the Amherst Bulletin has turned into a shell of its former self.

I know you believe that we should be eternally grateful for those dollars that you drop into our community, but some of us are wondering whether we're coming out even these days. We lack resources because of the relative lack of taxable land in town, and we certainly lack the resources to staff our emergency services adequately, especially if the number of student emergency calls continues to escalate.

We don't hate you. We want to live with you, but some changes in your behavior have to be made. Don't tell us that we just have to accept it, because we don't and we won't.

Secession = Success said...

Oh Amherst, how deluded your ideas are. You're mad as hell, tax those kids! Because if I recall correctly I remember everyone in town lock-stepping and stating "The noise violations are not for money! The noise violations are not for money! We are well-to-do." Oh how the depleted pocket book reveals true intentions. Residents would say drunken minds reveal sober thoughts, I say broken pockets reveal irrational thoughts.

Rather than examining the figures in depth we assume that the extra service costs stems solely from ambulance charges. Has anyone computed the number of average "excess" calls and analyzed where most of this has happened? Why is this not factored in at the start of the year based on the average number of students enrolled? The university has been here since 1865, the others even earlier. This should be planned for ahead of time, and I am sure it is to a certain extent but obviously not enough. However the lack of a deal made (UMass is not disappearing in a few years, yet talks/long term deals have not even been planned) tells me several things.

Either the town administration, the university administration, or both are failing to reach a deal in which fair shares are paid to cover ambulance services.

Town residents and politicians are blaming the university for endogenous town problems for convenience.

Amherst College and Hampshire are increasingly spared from finger-pointing (could the correlation of the size of their donations/buy-outs of town approval be a strong variable? Likely.) and thus the town is elitist and hypocritical. (I am sure Larry would agree with me that not everyone is like this, most average citizens I enjoy and respect having never encountered legal trouble to any extent.)

My proposal, request UMass take over the emergency services on campus and break all ties with the town. UMass is very much a separate entity on it's own. With more residents at UMass than the town, emergency services such as fire and ambulances should be internally operated and thus the town would enjoy reduced service. In addition the university should construct its own super-market, as the post office, police, power plant is covered, and enact it's own by-laws, etc. The town of UMass would be completely separate and could even construct its own housing policed by UMPD. Community service would be regulated to campus, making it easier for students to perform acts of kindness and promote their own town that they feel a connection with rather than the weird stares they receive when doing in in Amherst. Any services to the town of Amherst would be charged, such as power in the event of an outage, any exogenous ambulance coverage, etc so it would be no different than now. Perhaps that is a viable solution?

LarryK4 said...

Fine by me, but No--not viable.

It is rather odd, don't you think, that UMass has a state funded police force larger than the town's--but NO Fire or EMT department?

Secession = Success said...

I do, and I believe it is time for the split. Politically it is not viable as the town would lose its love/hated source of revenue, but logistically it is. The university, to my understanding, even has its own parks and highway departments. EMS and fire are the only things missing. With an increase of 2000 or so students (the figures seem to adjust) it would only make sense for the university to become its own space. Money could even be saved on the town end with the removal of the PVTA and new, town-oriented businesses could replace the various bars, book-stores, restaurants, and other venues providing revenue.

LarryK4 said...

Well then, get to work on it.

You probably have plenty of time until graduation.

Anonymous said...

Kids will be kids and UMASS is a college town but loud, destructive, reckless, and inconsiderate behavior should not be tolerated. I don't live in Amherst. I don't know how the town addresses it, but if I lived there and saw these things happen year after year after year, it would make me angry and it would make me wonder if stronger steps needed to be taken.

Anonymous said...

If you pride yourself on being a "journalist," act like one. You read a puff piece in the police blog about 202 college st and immediately report on it as verifiable truth?
Find out the real story before hopping on your filthy soapbox.
The only assaults and riot that occurred were perpetrated by Amherst's finest.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I attend Monday morning press briefings at the Amherst Police Department.

And my soapbox is now squeaky clean. Just washed it after Occupy Amherst left it rather yucky.