Friday, February 24, 2012

Incendiary Library Debate

After extensive public discussion, one positive Town Meeting vote and two successive Override failures, the fate of Shutesbury's new library is now in the hands of a Superior Court Judge, as proponents of the library/community center refuse to take NO for an answer.

They will, however, learn to do that soon enough.

Interestingly, lead architect of the lawsuit and--questionably--its attorney of record, Michael Pill, makes a good living servicing NIMBY clients shouting NO.

Mr. Pill represented neighbors trying to stop the HAP Butternut Farm low-income project in South Amherst (and failed), the Amherst neighbors on University Drive opposed to rezoning property for senior housing combined with mixed use commercial (and won), and he's representing Amherst Woods neighbors opposed to a solar farm on the old landfill, which he will surely lose.

Of course win or lose, Mr. Pill always gets paid.

M.N. Spear Memorial Library, Shutesbury
Two of the eight challenged ballots (that the Board of Registrars allowed) just happen to be Mr. Pill's grown children, ages 28 and 32. And two other challenged ballots (also allowed) had close ties to the Powers That Be in rural Shutesbury:  The 25-year-old son of former town administrator David Dann and the 29-year-old son of Becky Torres the current town administrator who was Chair of the Select Board when the proposed library site was purchased in 2004.
Proposed site for new library
Christopher Buck was the only vote overruled by the Board of Registrars and thrown out because he voluntarily registered to vote in Kentucky shortly before the second Shutesbury Override vote.  And that clearly trumps any previous voting place.

Even the complaint filed by library supporters telegraphs their lack of confidence in throwing out the Paczkowski no votes, as they ask the judge for a remedy:  "Order the defendant Board of Registrars not to count the votes of Richard and Joan Paczkowski, or in the alternative if the Paczkowski votes are to be counted, then order the defendant Board of Registrars to count the vote of Christopher Buck."  Which would approve the Override by a count of 523-522.

Richard and Joan Paczkowski taking the time on 10/14/2011 to reregister in Shutesbury--their hometown for the past 37 years--trumps their previous registration in Florida where, like many folks of retirement age from the northeast, they winter. 

Much is made out of the Paczkowski's taking out a Homestead Declaration on that Florida property. Almost four years ago, however, the Amherst Board of Registrars took up that exact scenario with Anne Awad and Robie Hubley, who had taken out a Homestead Declaration on a house in South Hadley (where they currently reside) but used an empty condo that was up for sale as proof of residency in Amherst to not only vote, but also to hold elected office.

The Amherst Town Clerk testified at the 7/3/08 hearing: "There was no known legislation whereby the signing of a Homestead Declaration for a property in another community could be used to determine that an individual could not be registered to vote in the community in which they consider themselves to be a resident."

The Amherst Board of Trustees voted 3-0 to allow Hubley and Awad to maintain their voting rights in Amherst.  Just as the Board of Registrars did in Shutesbury on January 25 with Joan and Richard Paczkowski. 

Case closed.

 And NO, it will be


Anonymous said...

I appreciate any lawyer with the guts to go out and fight for people.

LarryK said...

Are you referring to Michael Pill who lives close to the proposed library and would benefit by that property being spruced up, or Donna MacNicol the town attorney taking him on, defending a position (Override loss) that town officials--her bosses--are not particularly enthused about?

Anonymous said...

So very sad for Shutesbury, but very typical behavior exhibited by them.

LarryK said...

Oh I don't know, Shutesbury has always struck me as the quintessential New England town.

Although I was surprised to learn a few years back that their tax rate is higher than Amherst's. Ouch!

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with that garage building that new curtains and some potted plants wouldn't fix.

Anonymous said...

Larry, Keep up the good work. So tired of the proponents insults. Check out and you will know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing such an honest piece and summary of this library issue. As an opponent of the library I feel we can build a library that fits our town, is affordable or fully covered with fund raising, does not duplicate space already under utilized, and does not sit in a wetland. Our town hall already has a large room with another attached with folding walls plus a full kitchen and restrooms.

Anonymous said...

On behalf of the silent majority of Shutesbury, I would like to say Bravo!