Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Drastic Measure

 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

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Damn, now I have to stock up on beer. I don't have much room left in my bomb shelter. Still ready for the big one, don't you know.

Anonymous said...

Unless the surrounding towns participate a ban on selling alcohol will do nothing but hurt Amherst business owners. If the students can't buy beer in Amherst they will drive a few feet to Hadley to buy it. Without Hadley and perhaps Belchertown participating this is a really dumb idea.

Larry Kelley said...

That's exactly what they said in 1999 about the smoking ban in bars, where Amherst lead the way.

Anonymous said...

This is different than a permanent smoking ban in bars. Is Amherst now going to lead the way and become a dry town? Permanently?

For 2 days, students will have no difficulty going to Hadley to buy their beer.

You are asking business owners to sacrifice their livlihood without any sign that a 2 day ban will stop anyone from buying beer. Unless Hadley joins in this is a foolhardy endeavor.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, Liquors 44 is in Hadley. And the difference between smoking in a bar and this is that you still are drinking the beer here -- just lugging it further.

But do not fall into the trap of saying this is just alcohol. It isn't -- it is a mix of alcohol and illegal drugs, and the latter are relevant too....

And as to the Hobart incident, I still would like to know (a) how they ever got the clip out of that damaged Glock (which looked like a train had run over it - those Glocks are made of super-strong composites) and (b) how he police officer, to whose hip this gun was strapped, managed not to have a broken hip.

The amount of force necessary to do that much damage to that gun would have ripped the man (or woman) apart. We were all lied to -- there is no possible way that Glock was being worn by an officer when it was damaged -- the officer would be dead....

Anonymous said...

yeah. because prohibition worked really well.

Larry Kelley said...

They were a tad too ambitious.

Anonymous said...

Larry- Did you see the latest post from your favorite dj's page?

Larry Kelley said...

"Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

Anonymous said...

"Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

You would be wise to bear this admonition in mind as well, Larry.

Anonymous said...

Larry, you are simply delusional.

Anonymous said...

Video of 2 UMass Football players getting scholarships (notice of theawards was delivered by UMass Police) this week is featured on Inside Edition today
(saw preview, saw UMass shirts and did a search to get the story)

Tom McBride said...

We can also at least partially blame the liquor manufacturers. I don't know how much but I bet, knowing the large market, they spend an obscene amount of money on marketing in this area. I can't blame a businessman for knowing his market, but there's something slightly immoral about it. So many people are hurt.

Anonymous said...




Be aware:

Since Halloween is on a Wednesday, it will be the Saturday before that will be the big night...

Anonymous said...

most likely the weekend before and after the 31st would probably be big weekends. and yes, Hadley is two feet away, it would exclusively hurt business owners in Amherst to put a ban for two days. It wouldn't make a difference for the kids, I'm confused as to how you think it would, Larry. If surrounding towns would also put on the ban I would whole heartedly agree that this would do some damage, both because they cannot drink and it would have a mental impact as well I believe.

Larry Kelley said...

Well I'm assuming the Select Board and UMass officials would ask the surrounding towns (Hadley, Belchertown, Sunderland) to join in the ban.

Hell, they are pretty good at asking nicely for things. Like asking the students to behave, and giving them oatmeal cookies.

Fenway617 for the NFLPOOLONINE.com said...

Larry - I am usual on par with you but this is not in the realm of reality. The liqueur store that pulls in the most business from UMass is Liquors 44 in Hadley. As others said if they banned sales in Amherst there are too many surrounding towns that wouldn't follow, no chance Northampton or Chicopee or South Hadley or Holyoke (esp Holyoke) would ban sales. The smoking ban analogy is a bad example because the ban was only for inside, customers could still walk outside and smoke all they wanted and smoking a cigarette while driving isn't and never was illegal.

Fenway617 for the NFLPOOLONINE.com said...

Larry - I am usual on par with you but this is not in the realm of reality. The liqueur store that pulls in the most business from UMass is Liquors 44 in Hadley. As others said if they banned sales in Amherst there are too many surrounding towns that wouldn't follow, no chance Northampton or Chicopee or South Hadley or Holyoke (esp Holyoke) would ban sales. The smoking ban analogy is a bad example because the ban was only for inside, customers could still walk outside and smoke all they wanted and smoking a cigarette while driving isn't and never was illegal.

Tom McBride said...

Quit beating on the oatmeal cookies, they put their butts on the line and tried to solve a very difficult problem. Endlessly chastising them probably won't help. We could bring back the death penalty for all students that get in trouble, but that probably won't fly.

Anonymous said...

Such rubbish! If the selectboard really cared enough, how about hiring more cops! I've been to enough meetings and heard enough to know that the Amherst Police Department are understaffed. Northampton Police have about 60 officers, Umass has about 70 officers. Amherst Police...45.

Anonymous said...

There is no rationale in hitting businesses in the pocketbook in order to quell a situation. This is punishing the wrong person. The colleges, the property owners, the students (and non students) involved, yes, but not the businesses. They are not the ones breaking the law. That's like closing down Antonios after dark because their customers litter on the sidewalk.

Larry Kelley said...

Obviously Tom, I have a chocolate chip cookie bias.

Anonymous said...

Just what we need- folks under the influence driving town to town looking to secure more alcohol

Larry Kelley said...

In the past six months the Select Board has denied beer and wine permits for the two busiest little stores in Amherst, mainly because of the problem we already have with the distribution of alcohol.

Anonymous said...

What a silly idea.

Larry Kelley said...

So, you could not go 48 hours without purchasing alcohol? Hmm ...

Anonymous said...

This is probably the dumbest post I have seen on this website. All this would do is hurt local businesses. These businesses also wouldn't be happy with their "law abiding patrons". All of their bitching and moaning is the only reason they would be shut down and losing money.

Larry Kelley said...

What is the value of a human life?

Why don't you call up the Mom of that UMass student about to graduate but slaughtered by a drunk driver and ask her.

Anonymous said...

Larry, your statements about the gang rape and the fatal drunk driving incident earlier this year seem to imply that these were incidents committed by UMass students.

The drunk driver was not a UMass student (she was from Sunderland though). And the rapists were not UMass students. As unlikely as it may seem to some folks, UMass students are not the sole cause of all Amherst's problems.

Larry Kelley said...

Correct. Clearly I said "too much alcohol" is the source of our problems.

Anonymous said...

Great letter! I fully support this and have thought this necessary for quite some time.

I've lived in a city that was dry all the time and enjoyed it. Sure, I bought alcohol at nearby towns on occasion. But there were no bars or liquor stores in my community. As a result, the area had high property value and a great reputation.

I would love to see the town of Amherst make certain periods dry for three days to control the growing problem of binge drinking and student alcoholism. It might actually change the school's reputation in doing so, so UMass should support this, too.

Even further, I would love to see Amherst become a completely dry community.

Anonymous said...

And, by the way, that was a dry "college town" - for those who think Amherst would be different circumstances. It is actually home to a top-notch medical university.

Anonymous said...

Funny how Larry loves to point his itchy blogger trigger at everyone but himself. I've seen you buying beer at MANY different packy's over the years. Let me guess, you maybe had half a one on a hot summer day while cutting the lawn. Right?

What a two-faced hypocritical NITWIT!!!!

Larry Kelley said...

Actually you would not have seen me purchase beer since March16, 2011 to be exact.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure you would have seen Larry urinating on someone else's lawn ...

Anonymous said...

DJ FB page.. MIA?!!! SUCCESS!

Larry Kelley said...

I think he got nervous about publicly suggesting/encouraging a "riot". A bit of an overreaction as he could have simply deleted the comment rather than the entire page.

Although neither will do him much good if he gets caught at a riotous party since I did do a screen grab for evidence.

Anonymous said...

and how much would it cost the town in legal fees defending itself against law suits brought on by business owners who paid a lot of money for a liquor license ......and it would never stand up in court..this is ridiculous...

Larry Kelley said...

Oh, I think the argument could easily be made for "cases of riots or great public excitement" most any weekend these days.

Dr. Ed said...

Yes Larry, you could argue "riot" all you want -- and the town has the authority to breach contracts but not with impunity.

No more than the town can just decide not to pay for the modular classrooms. What ever happened to them, btw?

Ban liquor sales and I think the town well could be liable for lost profits of licensees under the "taking" clause. I am not aware of any litigation either way on this because I am not aware of any town ever temporarily suspending liquor sales, but this makes sense.

Anonymous said...

maybe mr. vickery would defend the town pro bono...after all it was his idea

Larry Kelley said...

He's a stand up guy who's not afraid to sign his name, so I'm sure he would (I'm also told he's no slouch of an attorney).

Anonymous said...

Just learned that late last night a drunk driver plowed into the entrance ramp outside of Elements on Main Street and took out most of the ramp's railing. Given all the late night activity, including pedestrians, in that general area, it's good there weren't serious injuries. More needs to be done to curtail drunk driving in our town.

Dr. Ed said...

More needs to be done to curtail drunk driving in our town

Perhaps if law enforcement concentrated on that and not noise of young people having fun?

There is a larger issue - there are a lot of things on the sides of our highways that we would not tolerate on the side of an airport runway, a lot of poorly marked roads that we would not tolerate were they airport taxiways.

Why there hasn't yet been a fatal head-on collision on Kellogg Avenue on that one-lane-wide curve just west of Ann Whalen is beyond me - and note I said "yet" -- it isn't marked as a hazard and it isn't something that a sober, experienced, driver (not familiar with the road) would expect.

All this "traffic calming" stuff exponentially increases your drunk driver risk -- anything that slows down the sober driver because he/she/it has to think how to get through the gauntlet concurrently is something that the impaired driver simply isn't going to be able to do.

I don't know the particular railing the prior poster referenced, nor how well the border between the road travel area and this parking lot was marked, nor even how much that was obscured by fallen leaves -- but think "side of a runway" and would this have passed muster?

Blame it on the drunk -- and yes that is part of it -- but there is also the concept of marking the damn roads so that people can safely drive them at night.

Anonymous said...

to hit the earlier mentioned damaged railing, the drunk driver had to veer off the road onto the sidewalk and the curb there is pretty high. It's a bit of a feat.

Elements is between the Lumberyard and Bruno's Pizza.

Larry Kelley said...

Thank God it happened at 2:33 AM rather than a couple hours earlier as there were a LOT of students in costumes all over Main Street late Friday night early Saturday morning.

Anonymous said...

to hit the earlier mentioned damaged railing, the drunk driver had to veer off the road onto the sidewalk and the curb there is pretty high. It's a bit of a feat.

The purpose of a curb is to stop vehicles (initially carriages by breaking their wheels), now to stop vehicles by blowing their tires. The same way that bollards were intended to stop runway horses by breaking their legs.

Drunk drivers aren't supposed to be driving, let alone veering off the road, but the curb is supposed to at least slow them down when they do. That's why it is there....