Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Play it Again Sam

Just to underscore the difference between the venerable Daily Hampshire Gazette and little ol' me I offer the following:  nine years ago I tried to run a half-page print ad supporting the Charter Change ballot question (at the ridiculously high "political ad rate"), dumping our antiquated Select Board/Town Meeting form of government for a more nimble, professional Mayor/Council, but I was turned down (at lost revenue to them of almost $1,500).

Why?  Because the ad consisted of only one name, blown up rather prominently, as having endorsed the "Vote yes on the Charter:" A signature ad that had run the previous week with over 500 other names besides his own.  And I hate to now out him, but that lone name was Amherst's (super) state Senator Stan Rosenberg.

The Gazette rationale was that he knowingly signed a signature ad assuming his name would appear with over 500 other names (and as a result get lost) but he had not signed off on a rather large spotlight.  My theory is when you go public, you go public -- all the way baby.

Take this Cowardly Anon Nitwit for instance.  He made a Comment at 3:41 AM this morning on a post from 6 months ago that would normally only get a couple dozen views -- mainly from folks doing a Google search for any of the numerous names that appear.

And obviously he is friends with one or two because how else would he know that some of the kids I mention are "recent graduates".

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Last Hurrah Party House Blowout":

I am appalled that you think it is okay to post the names and addresses of these young students and recent graduates. As I read this, and the string of comments attached, I wonder if you have ever attended college? Have you ever pursued a higher education? There may be flaws with the education system, and higher education is certainly not without its share of flaws. However, it is a community in which young adults can grow and learn from their accomplishments as well mistakes. I am biased, I suppose, as I am a doctoral student studying education. What is rather amusing, however, is the fact that you are still in the town in which you were raised, posting personal information about people you do not know. Why don't you post some of your flaws and your street address? I am sure that you have rolled through a stop sign, crossed a street without using the crosswalk, or perhaps upset a few people in your day.
You harp on people who disturbed the public, and yet here you are, disturbing the public.

Larry Kelley has left a new comment on your post "Last Hurrah Party House Blowout":

Seems to me the only ones I'm "disturbing" are the a-holes who party too much.
But thanks for stopping by. Now go work on your dissertation.

I'm actually happy the CAN brought me back to that particular Party House post.  In light of recent events, it's certainly worth revisiting.  Notice the record setting number of arrests (a dozen) at 11 Phillips Street that weekend.  Yes, that is the same house we now know had 14 kids living in it! (although it is only zoned for 4).

And they paid the rent by operating an alleged illegal basement bar at all hours of the night/early morning. If the town and UMass really want to send a message about these insidious student slums, then they should join together to support taking Phillips Street by eminent domain (via the Amherst Redevelopment Authority) and allowing a responsible developer to rebuild a Phoenix housing project we can all can be proud of.  


Adam Sweet said...

Honestly why do you let anonymous trolls post comments? I'd stop that practice myself

Anonymous said...

You really are obsessed with this whole issue, aren't you. I feel sorry for you.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually Adam I would not classify that one (or the one I just now published) as a "troll".

I consider a troll to be someone who really doesn't care about an issue but simply wants to generate an emotional response, and lots of them.

These two Nitwits are either friends of the party hardy types, or are themselves the guilty parties.

Anonymous said...

This is Anon 12:44.

I am neither a friend of the party type or one of the guilty parties. I am a resident of the town of Amherst (36 year resident) and I do think you are clinically obsessed with this whole issue. I agree that this is an important issue - but you have gone around the bend in your devotion to it.

When was the last time you called an anonymous poster who agreed with you a nitwit? Anon posters who agree with you are no less "nitwits" than anonymous posters who disagree with you. You really ought to standardize your characterization of anonymous posters.

Larry Kelley said...

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but posting as an Anon gives it little to no validity.

Matt said...

Of course, it's not personal information. When the police get involved it becomes a matter of public record and every newspaper in the country publishes the names and addresses of people who were arrested in police blotters. Some papers even give them sarcastic headlines. In my experience, only minors are anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Anon opinions ONLY have validity when they agree with you. Do you deny that?

Larry Kelley said...

Can't say I disagree with that -- but then I would be agreeing with an Anon I obviously disagree with.

phil_mccraken said...

Frankly, judging by how Larry's calling card is how he publicly, flagrantly bashes anyone he deems in the wrong (students and local pols included), why on EARTH would someone open themselves up to that kind of torture by leaving their full name?

Be truthful, LK. The only reason you want people's names is so you can do public record searches on them and pry into their lives if they say anything bad against you. Yours is the WORST kind of citizenry- ready to throw anyone under the bus at a whiff of dissent.

Larry Kelley said...

Cowards die a 1,000 deaths, the "worst kind of citizenry" but one.

Paul Vlach said...


Your posting of the party house info and arrestee identities are a helpful way to bring pressure to bear, and I'm glad it's showing up on Google searches.

I had asked the Daily Hampshire Gazette administrators last year why they stopped publishing court dispositions from Eastern Hampshire Regional District Court in Belchertown, where Amherst, UMass and other local cases are prosecuted and adjudicated. They replied that they did not have the staffing to continue that, though they do still carry the Northampton court info, periodically.

It seems to me that the chain of accountability gets lost when the actual disposition of charged offenses is not readily available public info. It would also seem to me that the court staff would be obligated to disseminate the info, just as the local PDs are required, upon request. Even if it was compiled and printed monthly, at least it would be of some use in tracking these offenses to the end, so the effectiveness of ALL of the wheels of justice can be assessed by John Q Public.

Larry Kelley said...

Hey Paul,
Yeah that's a great idea. As I said recently on a DUI post, I would love to follow up on all 144 drunk driving arrests APD made last year to see how the courts handled them.

The nuisance house, noise cases would be a lot more work ... but certainly worth doing.

Anonymous said...

The truth has no author.

- Anonymous

Larry Kelley said...

The ultimate defense against libel/slander is to be telling the truth.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, gee, the information that you post (students being busted) is already published in the paper and a matter of public what is this pompous cry baby declaring exactly? And just what does he/she think that these kids are learning here (higher education) that we should give up our rights to peace and quiet and non-harassment? What a douche. signed a tax payer who will never vote for his ass again, stay in Eastern Ma, we don't need you!

Larry Kelley said...

I always publish before the newspapers, and sometimes use material they do not, but yes, it's ALL from police logs, therefor public.

kate said...

actually the person does have a point. Im not sure i would want to publicize all the stupid things i did in college, or even last week! LOl

Anonymous said...

Then here's some free advice Kate. Don't get arrested for the things you do and you won't have to worry that they will show up on someone's blog.

Of course, that would require some self control.

Dr. Ed said...

There are three issues here, and these are serious social policy issues Larry that in a different context could bite you.

First is the CORI law -- when you remember how expensive computers were in the early 1970s, no one ever guessed that private companies and now individuals would ever be able to compile databases of arrests and other such stuff.

So while the arrest and conviction info is public, what is not is the computer database upon which it is stored. And that's a well intended mistake that I love to point out that the Dems made -- in other states, this is all public.

Second, and I am thinking particularly of a law proposed by the NAACP to further restrict CORI info, the approach has been to keep what people have done secret rather than to expand the concept of not holding it against them. Of the two, I find the latter less offensive.

Third, and this is perhaps most important -- an arrest is nothing but an accusation. Larry, you cross this like routinely, all of the stuff you post about party houses and the rest ought to have adjectives like "allegedly" and all the fines you list ought to be "seek to have the court assess a fine of...:"

The problem with having arrest records published and court records not is that in the (albeit rare) instance where someone is truly innocent and found thus, there is no record ever made of it.

Think the flip side of this and the quite-unConstitutional "Stolen Valor Act" -- a well intended effort to reign in the schmucks who falsely claim to have earned medals that they didn't. Well, if the DoD had actually bothered to set up a database honoring these individuals -- and heaven forbid, perhaps even including the narrative, at least for the Medal of Honor -- then this would be a moot point because they would have a very hard time explaining why their name isn't listed.

As I explained to a single mother back in the day, if a guy really is a licensed electrician, he will have a license number and he will be able to tell you what it is, if it isn't already painted on his truck. (And he isn't going to hook up a clothes drier by having the breaker box hanging half out of the wall with bare/hot leads out where a child could touch them, and the wires strung across the floor & around the corner, either....)

Now she could just look him up on the state website and verify that he has or doesn't have a license. And she can do this at the public library, for free.

And as it is a public datatabase, while the town wiring inspector might not ethically/legally be able to tell her what he might know about this "guy she saw advertising on BET", he could show her that the state website says no one with his name has a license - perfectly legitimately.

Dr. Ed said...

Three other points -- Part 1

First, as a society, we need to collectively decide what our expected standard of forgiveness should be. Computer records linger forever and at what point do we say that something was so outside what the person's character is (or has become), so long ago and so relatively minor compared to the scope of life that we either aren't going to consider the transgression or perhaps not even consider it socially acceptable to mention it.

The flip side of that is that we seem to have one standard of (lets call it what it is) "morality" for people on the bottom and entry level job applicants, and a completely different one for folk at the top. Yes Petraeus but I am also thinking a former principal who liked little boys a bit too much, a town manager twice fired, and really lovely school folk in a community to the south that let a girl with ADHD be bullied to death.

The BabyBoomers threw out the then-existing morality and didn't replace it -- and that is the real problem today.

Second, with "officer-only" databases, private databases and the blogosphere, exactly how does one clear one's name when falsely (or mistakenly) accused, let even always know what one is accused of?

One of my brothers tends to do things that get him arrested and likes to give my name to police officers who are honest to admit (seeing me in person) that I am about 100 lbs lighter and 4 inches taller than the person they arrested -- I respect honesty and if it ended there, I could live with it.

But it tends to be somewhat problematic, let alone rather embarrassing to read the morning paper and learn that you had been arrested the prior evening, particularly if you are a gentleman and don't want to have to ask a young lady to verify where you really had been all night.

And I don't want to think of trying to get it out of a blog. That, Larry, is why I don't think you should publish names until there is a court disposition. It is like capitol punishment, 99% of the people may deserve it, but you need to worry about the 1% who don't.

Dr. Ed said...

Part 2
At the explicit request of UM Ombudsperson Catherine Porter, and I mention her name as she did this in her official capacity, I attempted to assist a vet with some psych issues adjust to UMass life. I don't do things halfway, which meant that I insisted that he be treated fairly, which meant that I went to court with him more than once. And I will be very clear, he is an a**hole -- he also wore my country's uniform in time of war which I respect.

One night the Amherst Police arrested him for - essentially - walking through a solid and quite substantial brick wall that had been built to fire/explosion standards necessary for a Chrysler dealership, even though it is now a restaurant.

Neither he nor any human being could possibly do this - not without at least leaving a hole behind - and thus he clearly didn't do it. When the judge realized this, he suggested that it would be wise for the ADA to not bring this accusation back into his courtroom and it became a Null Prosq.

The arrest was widely publicized. The Null Prosq -- which essentially said that the APD should never have arrested him -- wasn't published anywhere at all. Do you see the problem here?

There is a lot more involved in that mess that I don't want to get into here, but the basic problem is that the only thing an arrest is supposed to be is a means to ensure that a person whom the police wish to bring charges against will be in court to answer them. That really is all it is supposed to be -- all detention, including pretrial, is supposed to be approved by a dispassionate judge with the police and accused standing as equals before him/her/it. That's Civics 101, folks....

I really am uncomfortable about publicizing arrests. If nothing else, it gives those who have been convicted the plausible denialabilty of saying that they were falsely/mistakenly/whatever arrested and were never convicted of anything -- with no way for people to know otherwise....

Dr. Ed said...

0ne other thing

While no fan of Rosenburg, I think it would have been inherently unfair for you to have run an ad bearing just his signature, even if it was an edited version of one where his signature was amongst 499 others.

It would be perfectly fair for you to run an ad saying "I, Larry Kelly, want you all to note that he was one of the 500 who signed an ad saying 'X, Y, & Z'." That's fair -- what isn't is what it appears you sought to do -- that would actually lean toward deception and make it look like Rosenberg had actually put the ad in the paper.

IMHO, the Gazette made the right call.

Walter Graff said...

"So while the arrest and conviction info is public, what is not is the computer database upon which it is stored."

Semantics. In most states, criminal conviction data are public records. It is extrapolated from criminal databases but not all data on that device is made or allowed to be public.

"when you remember how expensive computers were in the early 1970s, no one ever guessed that private companies and now individuals would ever be able to compile databases of arrests and other such stuff."

Says who? I owned computers in the mid seventies and was a member of Compuserve at the time, the only public server based system at the time. While we did not have the access we had today, we knew it only a matter of time before more and more info would be available. In fact we had a chat board that discussed the possibilities, one as I recall, being able to access public records from home.

Dr. Ed said...

Semantics. In most states, criminal conviction data are public records. It is extrapolated from criminal databases but not all data on that device is made or allowed to be public.

In Massachusetts, with the exception of level II/III Sex Offenders, all of the computer databases are officer only.

It's a stupid law.