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 ...