Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Out of Africa

 Africa we hardly knew ye

The last remaining vestige of former Select Board Czar Anne Awad was briefly on display last night as our current Select Board members discussed dissolving -- due to a lack of interest -- the Nyeri Sister City Committee, the single handed handiwork of Awad back when she was at the height of her ruinous reign.

Awad had breathlessly reported to her Select Board underlings (who unanimously approved the Sister City relationship recommendation to Town Meeting) that she received paparazzi-like reception at the Kenya airport.  Apparently at the time Ms. Awad had a daughter-in-law living in Nyeri and her ego was such that that alone was reason enough to tie Amherst into a Sister City relationship.

Amherst has two long standing, active, Sister City relationships, one with  La Paz Centro in Nicaragua and the other with Kanegasaki, Japan.

The Nyeri article passed Town Meeting but not without a fair amount of discussion (scroll down to article #14).

Awad came to power in 2000 as the "fusion candidate".  The turnout that year was higher than normal (20.4%) due to a non-binding referendum that demanded local police  "deprioritize" marijuana enforcement, which Awad strongly supported as did the voters.

As a result College students actually turned out to vote for a change.  Although they supported the wrong candidate.

Awad crushed her opponent incumbent Hill Boss 2189 to 1429 and she spent the next few years orchestrating a behind the scenes power grab which was finally realized on March 31, 2004.

She of course was the lone dissenting vote on the night of September 10, 2001 when the Select Board voted 4-1 to allow the commemorative American flags to fly only on six occasions in the downtown.  She only wanted the flags to fly but once, July 4th.  

I call Awad's reign "the dark days," and the minutes of that meeting where she was unanimously elected Czar, I mean "chair", perfectly illustrates my point.  That night the Select Board voted 3-1 with (Eva Schiffer voting No and disillusioned member Carl Seppala MIA) to cut $85, 270 from the budget for two police officers.

A few moments earlier they voted unanimously to "support Cherry Hill" even though the golf course was at that point in the middle of a multi-year $100,000 annual losing streak.  So yeah, lets cut $85K for two cops but continue to squander more than that on the expensive game of golf.  

Another fitting reason for the term "dark days" is because Awad was cited a number of times by the District Attorney, responding to my complaints, for violation of the Open Meeting Law, and using email to carry on discussions (attempting to sabotage the July 4th Parade) that should have been in the bright light of a pubic meeting.

Of course the ultimate symbol of her to-Hell-with-transparency attitude was the fact she was married to fellow Select Board member Robie Hubley for over a year (and obviously had been dating prior to tying the knot) before bothering to tell the voters.   

And let's never forget how she tried to cling to power even though purchasing and quickly moving into an expensive home in South Hadley, where today she lives in obscurity. 

Ah, the bad ol' days ...


Anonymous said...

I like Anne Awad. She was a smart, hard working member of the Select Board and supported residents.

Anonymous said...

Ruinous? Are you describing the Select Board, or past decade of the ARA, when a certain blogger was a very outspoken member? (A case of the "pot calling the kettle black"?)

Anne Awad may have had her faults; we all do. But her leadership was effective and widely appreciated. A lot of good was accomplished during her years on the Select Board.

Can this blogger document some lasting accomplishments of his terms on the ARA?
Oh, yeah: several hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer money spent on consultant studies of questionable value.

Maybe the ARA should have worked with Cinda and others in North Amherst to clean up some of the derelict properties near our beautiful little library instead of wasting time on ... what was that project near Fearing Street called again?

And what, by the way, is the ARA doing now? (What a wasted opportunity....)

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was Anne Awad wo removed the flag below ...but after researching Arrys blog...I learned it was Pat Church....

I quote from one of Larry's older posts...

And she was also the culprit who took down the Puerto Rican flag in front of Town Hall back in 2004. At the time she was a town meeting member and more appropriately Chair of the Solid Waste Committee; attending her usual Sunday afternoon Peace Rally in town center and somebody told her the Puerto Rican flag was the flag of Texas (to honor President Bush’s reelection the week before).

Here’s a snippet of the Gazette coverage at the time (11/9/04):

'I'm mortified,'' said Church when she learned of her mistake Monday. ''This makes me really embarrassed.''

She immediately asked a friend to fetch the flag from her house and take it to the police station, she said. Town Manager Barry Del Castilho said it would be returned to the flagpole today, she said. Police said today they would not pursue charges.

But the matter didn't end there. Vladimir Morales, the School Committee member who is president of the Puerto Rican Association, says he has demanded a formal apology from Church. The two were active in the campaigns of rival candidates in the Democratic primary for governor's council, said Church, who had not yet responded to Morales' request Monday night.

Removing the flag would not have been justified even if it had been the Texas flag, Morales said. ''You have to respect any flag, no matter where it's from,'' he said. ''Flags are flags. They're symbols.''

And he expressed surprise that a participant in a peace vigil had taken matters into her own hands by removing the flag. ''They're there for peace, for heaven's sake,'' he said.

Pretty much sums up the selectboard mentality for me. Ineffectual, dolts.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually, Anon 11:34 PM, it was only $30,000.

And the study clearly identified Phillips Street as "decadent," so the town or ARA would have a fairly easy time getting funds to take the entire street by eminent domain and build a respectable sized project.

My most lasting accomplishment as an ARA member was the downtown Parking Garage (which I'm sure you opposed).