A mountain of beer
Everyone -- except maybe for the culprits causing the chaos -- seems to agree the rowdy behavior bringing down the quality of life in neighborhoods around Amherst is not getting any better.
Noise and nuisance beat on unabated, cars continue to be piloted by drivers under the influence even after a young man was killed by a drunk driver going the wrong way on a state highway last spring, and UMass is still reeling from an alleged gang rape.
And the common denominator is of course alcohol -- or I should say, too much of it.
In this ultra PC Happy Valley, the term "bully" is negatively applied more frequently than sunscreen on a hot summer day at Puffers Pond. But the term "bully pulpit" is a positive one. A politician using their office to communicate standards of behavior expected of the populace at large.
Our Select Board has used their bully pulpit all too infrequently on this matter, and even then only to applaud ineffective Public Relations -- almost comedic schemes -- promoted by UMass to address the serious problem of off campus student behavior perpetrated by a distinct minority of their clientele.
A decade ago, after a particularly violent Hobart Hoedown caught APD off guard and resulted in injured officers and two patrol cars with over $10,000 in damages (Chief Scherpa had them parked in front of police headquarters for a week so the whole world could see), I asked Governor Romney to mobilize the national guard the following weekend.
Not that I thought state and local police could not handle things, but simply to send a message loud and clear that maintaining public order is job #1 for government, be it local state or federal.
It's time for our local Select Board to send a stern wake up call. As liquor commissioners the Select Board can shut down all liquor sales for up to three days "in cases of riots or great public excitement."
Amherst Attorney Peter Vickery suggested it earlier this month in a letter to the Select Board requesting they invoke the measure around this coming St Patrick's Day considering the debauchery of last year's infamous Blarney Blowout.
And attorney Vickery followed it up with a letter to UMPD Chief John Horvath the day after UMass hosted a public forum on reigning in rowdy behavior (where, unknown to us all, they were in the middle of the alleged gang rape investigation).
Letter to UMass Chief Alcohol Sales
Halloween is coming up fast and is sure to be one of the top party events of the year -- probably both on Wednesday as well as the weekend(s). If the Select Board suspended the sale of alcohol on Tuesday and Wednesday it would have a lesser impact on law abiding mature citizens who handle alcohol with respect and as such probably do not drink heavily in the middle of a work week.
A brief 48-hour prohibition on Halloween would send a loud message to everyone, and put purveyors of alcohol on notice that the irresponsible freewheeling party days of yore are over.
Peter Clark DJ Facebook page