Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shutesbury shoot out widens

Now come Alan Seewald, former Amherst, current Northampton city attorney and private practice attorney, to join the Shutesbury library legal fray by filing a "Motion To Intervene" on behalf of ten No voters requesting a Superior Court Judge review three additional yes votes, besides the one already ruled invalid, on identical grounds: residency.

The three challenged votes--two Pills and another Buck-- are the same previously challenged ones the Board of Registrars allowed at the January 25 recount where they did, however, sustain one challenged vote: Christopher Buck.  That brought the contentious vote tally back to 522-522, override fails.

Pro-override voters then filed a lawsuit against the Town Clerk and Board of Registrars demanding a Shutesbury couple with 37 years of residency, but who winter in Florida, be disenfranchised; and that Christopher Buck--who signed a legal document in Kentucky shortly before the Shutesbury election with the provision, "I do not claim the right to vote anywhere outside Kentucky"--be counted.

Now counter-petitioners are asking the Judge to rule Christopher Buck's wife Jessica, who also lives with him in Kentucky, ineligible.  Shoshana Holzberg-Pill, and Jacob Holzberg-Pill, who live and work full-time far from the bucolic community of Shutesbury, also make the short list.

And if that is not reassuring enough, attorney Seewald throws in the kitchen sink, asking the judge to declare the entire second override election invalid because town officials--in their haste to fast track the library--neglected to return to Town Meeting for a second spending authorization contingent on a Proposition 2.5 Override.

This entire legal maneuver will be made moot in the likely event the judge disagrees with pro-overriders and allows the original January 25 decision of the Board of Registrars to stand.   

Shutesbury Library Answer and Statement of Claim


18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks again (for the 4th time) for your painfully honest (and ever so sadly humorous) reporting of the facts concerning the proposed Shutesbury library. Your Shutesbury friends really appreciate your kindness and concern during these troubling times.

Anonymous said...

What a mess! Why can't the 2 sides sit down together and try to come up with a compromise...like maybe a smaller project. Something everyone can live with. What ever happened to the art of compromise, both in Shutesbury and in the United States Congress? How disheartening both situations are.

Anonymous said...

Excellent suggestions! Many of us are already walking that healing, compromising Shutesbury road you would want us to take.

Anonymous said...

Compromise - a brief review.


A committee was charged with drafting a proposal to build a new library. Many in the community were/are concerned about sustaining Town Departments, having had to reduce budgets and or level fund budgets for years, while reducing services. Some felt that for many reasons it was/is better to utilize existing space or perhaps add on to the Town Hall (utilizing the kitchen, community room and elevator that already exist). They believe that for fiscal, environmental and for sustainability reasons, this was/is the best approach. Most of these people did not get involved with this project, because they did not want to build a new library. Others who thought it would be nice to have a new library, left the drafting of the proposal to a committee. When the committee completed the proposal, it went before the Town without the dollar figure attached to the plan. Some had concerns about the size, the M shaped roof and the exterior siding. Those at the meeting approved moving forward to secure a grant, with the expectation that changes could only be made after the proposal was approved. Once the grant was approved, the total cost to taxpayers became more obvious. Many argued that a proposal should be more in line with the towns of Wendell, Leverett and Pelham, but Shutesbury's Library proposal would cost more than twice as much as any of them, about 3.1 million dollars. When trying to compromise, the community was informed that the proposal had stringent guidelines and could only be reduced by 5%.


Then There was a vote for a debt exclusion override, and the proposal failed. After the community had spoken, two of the three Select Board members voted to place the proposal before the voters again. The proposal has failed again, as certified by the State. The Friends of the Library are suing to overturn the outcome, by over-ruling the decision of the Board Of Registrars.


In the interim, there was a meeting with the Library Commissioners, requesting an extension of the grant. The Library Trustees and the Friends Of the Library chose to pursue this legal challenge, while the town of Grafton who argued for an extension before us, asked for an extension so as to scale back their proposal, work with their community and develop a plan that was supported by a majority of the community.


My guess is that if the judge stands behind the decision of the Board Of Registrars and the proposal remains defeated, then the proponents will want to compromise. My hope is that when the decision is made and if the certified vote defeating the override stands, we should all come together and assess our needs, our wants, our resources and then our ability to sustain it all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Larry....again

LarryK said...

No problem. It's a fascinating story.

Usually here in Amherst I'm in the middle of it. So it's interesting to simply report it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Larry,
Once again the Gazette has seen fit to publish another letter from the Shutesbury Library Director. The Director assumes and suggests the "New" Library is going to happen. The 522 No voters have not yet had their day in court. This "New" Library may never happen!

LarryK said...

You have to remember that newspapers, like libraries, are pretty heavily invested in paper and ink.

I also notice the Springfield Republican did a story on the pro library Youtube video getting noticed by The New Yorker (another institution heavily invested in paper and ink).

Anonymous said...

I'll check out the video. They will do anything to get attention. We have to endure another month of this.

Anonymous said...

Just watched the video. The kids were cute.
One question remains. If the library in Shutesbury gets built from getting donations who will pay the cost to maintain? Guess it will fall on the taxpayers even those who voted NO over and over.

Anonymous said...

"We don't need no liberry" ~This is a quote from a library proponent. She is mocking the opponents. How dare she? How low can one go? If money does indeed 'talk' then this library will be built~On questionable wetlands or not~When half the town says no, and only 40% even have a library card~it'll get built. It's a shame that they are exploiting children this way~this UTube video is a sham. It presents a very warped one sided view and does not present the facts, but a distorted picture of what they wish you to believe to further their cause. Nothing will happen to story time~no one's shoes will be burnt from the heating unit and no one will die of thirst while visiting the library. I am learning how deceitful people can be when they want something no matter what the cost. It's not a pretty picture!

Anonymous said...

I tried to make my point about the Library and received a nasty reply from a library supporter suggesting I was either being disingenuous or clueless. I guess there is no point in trying to have a discussion with anyone in favor of the library.

Anonymous said...

~Trying to make a point with these people is a bit fruitless. They have called opponents~liars, angry, fearful, prejudice, uneducated, (this is how they got the second vote and threw out the first vote that favored no building of a library which would raise taxes)unable to speak correct English~"We don't need no Liberry", as well as incapable of doing math. The figures don't lie~as Larry so gracefully says in a different post~the figures don't lie in Shutesbury either and the astronomical costs of this building, staff, maintenance, grounds keeping, heating, electricity, etc., etc... are costs they somehow are keeping under the rug~brand new, plush, carpeted, mohair, rugs at that!

Anonymous said...

Looks like Jeff Lacy is in hot water with the Yes Library for expressing an opinion. Check out ruralplanningassociates@crocker.com

Anonymous said...

Shutesbury Citizens for a Greater Community posted the Jeff Lacy petition (incorrectly cited above) as follows:

We the undersigned, from both the "yes" and "no" sides in the current Shutesbury library dispute, ask that knowledgeable representatives from both sides agree to come together with a mediator to negotiate a solution for the Town that does not rely on a decision of a court of law. We are not asking for a suspension of the legal actions now underway, rather that a negotiated solution be sought so that final court action becomes unnecessary. We also support the continuation of new library fundraising efforts, believing that the more money raised, the closer we are to a solution to the cost issues of a new library. If this effort is successful, meaning that leading advocates for both sides reach agreement on issues of new library size, design, and cost, we ask that the Town revote the issue both at a Town Meeting on May 5, 2012 and by subsequent ballot in time to accept the MBLC grant money by June 30, 2012.

Respectfully,
Jeff Lacy

"Greater Shutesbury" responded:

I don't think that anyone in the community expected or wanted a lawsuit to settle this dispute; negotiations would have been a much better way to have resolved our differences - before the lawsuit was filed. When a decision is made regarding the legal actions now underway, I feel it WILL be necessary that we abide by that decision. I applaud the effort to garner support for both sides to come together to find a solution. I believe that as a community, if we engage in an an open and respectful conversation where we address our needs with an open mind, examining all options - including more efficient use of public buildings, expansion to Town Hall based on Shutesbury's Master Plan as well as new construction, together we can find an affordable, sustainable solution. I also feel that this decision should not be rushed into. There needs to be a process where all voices are heard and options completely vetted in an open and transparent way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Larry,
Just read Shutesbury Library Site contamination.
Not surprised. Thank you SO MUCH for taking your time to stay with this.

LarryK said...

No problem, it's a great story.

(Easy for me to say, living in Amherst).

Anonymous said...

It really is a pretty sad story too. When adults exploit children the way they have in their UTube video, something is very wrong. When adults bully, harass, try to intimidate other adults into believing their side, something is wrong, but when money shows its power in the way it has here, by fling a lawsuit,which costs $, and hiring a lawyer which costs more $$, and forcing the opponents to enter that same arena, something is more than wrong~it's pitiful!