Monday, February 18, 2013

Party Permit?

Meadow Street Mayhem last Spring

The Safe & Healthy Neighborhood working group is furiously formulating a rental registration and permitting system bylaw for approval at the Annual Spring Town Meeting, to deal with that age old blight on Amherst residential neighborhoods -- the Party House. 

One of the other ideas being worked on (hopefully not too hard)  is a joint effort of the town and UMass to have students pre-register off campus parties.  Presumably if a party gets out of hand, the police will be a tad more accommodating because at least the party hosts had registered the event.

But if police are called to the atypical rowdy party going full blast and the hosts have not registered the event, then police will be a little harder on the perpetrators, and have one more charge to add to the roster. 

The latter will of course be the norm.
Some states have tried to "tax" illegal marijuana over the years by requiring dealers to pre purchase "tax stamps" for their contraband.  If cops bust a dealer without the stamps then officials can seize their personal property, or something like that.

It doesn't work very well.  Amazingly.

Kind of like trying to keep guns out of the hands of pernicious perps. Whatever rules you impose on the vast majority of law abiding citizens will be ignored by the wackos or hard core criminals.

And it only takes one of them to do astounding damage.

With "party registrations" Chief Livingstone recently told the Amherst Zoning Board, "I'm guessing we're heading in that direction".  But he was quick to add it should be overseen by the Dean of Students office because he didn't think the students would voluntarily come to the Amherst Police Department to register their event.

Safe bet.

 Sober Shuttle for one 2/17 1:22 AM

Perhaps a reason why the 'Sober Shuttle' in downtown Amherst seems to be having a hard time attracting a whole lot of student ridership:  the presence of a uniformed UMPD officer.

Early Sunday morning the 1:20 AM shuttle had only one rider and the 2:00 AM shuttle, if it did show up, would have had zero. 


Anonymous said...

This is an atypical weekend to judge ridership on the shuttle, as many students went home for the long weekend. It will be interesting to see how it fares next weekend.

Walter Graff said...

Another politically correct way of doing things in Amherst. Maybe they could give out a free 12 pack with every registration. What a stupid idea and what will prove in the end to be a poor way of dealing with things. There should be no special treatment because one person registers and one does not. Kids who are rebels will not register. Church groups will. What there should be is 1) education of the rules and the consequences to all students and the notice of NO TOLERANCE. This generation is coddled enough now and this is simply more coddling. Then they'll be a warning. And a second warning. Simply the wrong way to deal with a nuisance problem and this like everything else Amherst enacts will be a rousing failure. 2) A stricter enforcement and punishment ACROSS THE BOARD is necessary. I'll support the first method. If you want to party, enjoy. If you want to party too hardy, you pay the price. Or said another way you will know the parties that get out of hand because none of them wil be registered. Congratulations Amherst, again you take the passive aggressive way out.

Larry Kelley said...

My problem with initiatives like this is it allows UMass bureaucrats to say they are doing something about the problem, even if it is simply whistling while walking through a graveyard (at the start of the Zombie apocalypse).

Like handing out oatmeal cookies last year in the south end of campus while the north end burned.

The Chief mentioned up front in has talk with the Zoning Board that APD "hands out forms that make it perfectly clear to the students -- whether they are tenants or not -- what the expectations are."

Dr. Ed said...

Dr. King's 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is a classic Civil Rights document, but are any of you bright enough to remember WHY he was in the Birmingham Jail in the first place?

Essentially for having marches without a parade permit, which of course the city had no intention of giving him.

Anyone remember the issue of the Nazis in Stokie and what SCOTUS said on that? And if you can go through a community of Holocaust Survivors loudly chanting the most vile AntiSemetic Nazi vitriol, if a municipality can't prevent this, I don't think it can prevent you from having a party in your own private residence.

What power does any governmental entity have to require a citizen to get permission before inviting a guest into his/her/its private residence? What's next, the government requiring you get their permission as to whom you may sleep with?

This is so flagrantly unConstitutional that I can't believe that seemingly intelligent people are actually proposing it. And as to the APD treating those who haven't gotten a permit that they can't legally be required to obtain differently from those who have -- that's "violation of civil rights under color of law" and your police officers are not only personally liable but can go to jail for this sort of thing.

The irony here is hilarious. Uber-PC Amherst is going to violate not only the SCOTUS decision that Dr. King went to jail in order to win, but the Anti-Klan Act of 1871 which is where Section 1983 originated.

In a way, I actually hope you propose this because it will be struck down -- with a lot of other things coming out in the process. And as to Walter Graff's suggestions, I don't think the noise ordinance would stand up in Federal court should anyone ever challenge it.

There are very real Constitutional issues with arresting someone for a crime that has no possible jail sentence if convicted. The precedents on this also date from the Civil Rights era...

Anonymous said...

That is the most foolish idea I have ever heard of. Registering parties will open the town up to getting sued when one party goes badly and someone is injured or killed. I can see it now "But...the town gave me a permit for the party" Bad idea!

Walter Graff said...

"My problem with initiatives like this is it allows UMass bureaucrats to say they are doing something about the problem"

Yes Larry, utter crap once again by Amherst. But guess what? When someone says what have you done, they can show the party register and say "Look, we are keeping track of it all and we've clearly done a lot". Just wait till a hungry lawyer sees a fatal injury or slip and fall at a party sanctioned by but not monitored by this town. Someone has to always be blamed and if you acknowledge you know it's happening then you can and will be responsible based on how the system works in this country.

Shame on the police chief for giving in to this town. Get some balls and do the right thing. When I worked in the youth division with a suburban NYC police department , we took the bull by the horns. In Amherst we take a picture of the bull and say "look we've got it under control".

"Like handing out oatmeal cookies last year in the south end of campus while the north end burned."

What burned? There was a pretty banner and it told students to respect the town. And the cookies were good. They even had milk. And music. And smiles. They should have passed out rosaries too. Do not look at the man behind the curtain. Ignore that smoke. The sound of police sirens are just tests. Amherst has no issues with students rioting. Rioting? Did I say rioting? I'm sorry I misspoke. Move along folks. Nothing to see here.

"The Chief mentioned up front in has talk with the Zoning Board that APD "hands out forms that make it perfectly clear to the students -- whether they are tenants or not -- what the expectations are.""

Sure, another passive aggressive way of dealing with students. He also sat in his office and thought of it and his brain waves were sent to every student.

God forbid every student is reminded of the rules with direct communication and knowledge of the punishment. I'd say reminded of the no tolerance policy but that term does not exist in Amherst. We wouldn't want to give off the wrong image.

Add it to the list of Rube Goldberg methods of governing and enforcing laws in Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Walter (and Ed) if you hate it so much here in Amherst then just leave. Please. Just leave.

Walter Graff said...

Wish I could, but I'm trapped here. Doesn't change how ass-backwards this place operates most of the time. A few very bright spots though. Not all bad.

The Juggernaut said...

Excellent point about being ass-backwards Walter, as my time in Amherst revealed one thing aside from my diploma; Amherst does not realize it is a school town.

No bars are of large size. All malls, food courts, decent theaters are out of town. What are kids to do aside from throw their own parties?

Amherst IS ass-backwards, as it thinks it is the time of Ms. Dickinson. This isn't true. We don't use outhouses anymore, times change.

It is not impossible to have both the town and the school coexist, but the Vietnamesque manner of blending student and residential neighborhoods, hoping to "helicopter" in police units to fight limited battles is failing. Realize the student population is growing instead, embrace it, tax it, and allow regulated, safe student housing to grow in certain places. Students do not want to live far off campus, however they are forced too by the lack of alternatives. When they throw a party, the residents notice as it is a residential area. If a student had alternatives, then perhaps they would live there.

As for the current generation being coddled, enough of the stereotypes please, as you do no service to yours.

Walter Graff said...

"Amherst does not realize it is a school town."

Enough said on the subject with that succulent line.

Dr. Ed said...


And Walter Graff is right -- once the town assumes the duty to regulate parties, the town becomes liable for anyone hurt at a party -- and this includes rape. Oh, yeah, you are acquiring an awful lot of liability for no good reason.

It's why UMass will never ban alcohol -- once you do that, you are negligent if anyone gets drunk and YOU (not they) are liable not only for the harm they do to others but the harm they do to themselves.

Anonymous said...

Juggernaut, great post! According to my grandparents and cousins (all Amherst natives) few aspects of this town's relationship with the student community have changed over the years. This is becuase people of a certain age share similiar behavioral characteristics, residents and students alike. The stereo typing seen here is just background noise. Its an obvious conclusion that angry people stray too when they are frustrated.

The residents have to learn that the best situation they can possibly hope for is a steady state existence that keeps their lives separate from the students if they wish. Attempting to reclaim a neighborhood for historically "residential" purposes against the tide of a rapidly growing student population, however, is pointless. They must live in it or live without it, just as a student that moves into a family neighborhood must curb their livestyle.

Some of the posters here should google Tempe Arizona or Davis California before considering their lives in Amherst to be overwhelming. Some should stop being so self-righteous. As for the founder of this blog, he is certainly providing entertainment (I can not seem to stop reading all this stuff.)

The situation seems far from desperate, but I doubt any serious change will come soon. You can not fight human nature, and that is what we have here. A blog that is an obvious reaction to obvious human behavior. If I did not know of its existence, and someone asked me if there was a blog pertaining to local politics and gossip in a town like Amherst, I would say "Yes," without question. None of this should come as any surprise, and that leads me to the final thought of this post....Why?

P.S. Despite this question, please do not ever stop writing this blog. I do not know what I would do without the laughs.

-Anonymous UMass Student

Anonymous said...

excellent observation Juggernault! I often sit and laugh everytime the town has a celabration to salute the skirt tails of Emily D. I'm not saying she wasn't talented, but come on is this the best Amherst can offer? This towns idea of bonding is a hit or miss snow festival and a few poetry readings. Look at other communities similar to ours and they are so much more inventive and imaginative. If this town didn't have it's head so buried up it's politically correct ass it would more closely knit and the would be more community engagment.

Anonymous said...

Penn State is only slightly larger than UMass when you include the other 4 colleges -- and has no fewer than 34 nearby bars. How many does Amherst have?

Enough said?

Anonymous said...

Please, please, please require that the kids register their parties. Then used that information to enter their home (rental = home = castle) and arrest them once "cooperation at the door" is not granted...please:
Sincerely; Starving Defense Attorney No More