Monday, March 11, 2013

Blarney Blowout Epilogue


Blarney Blowout aftermath

Was this year's Blarney Blowout really "less trouble" than last year?  Well, no.  Sure the downtown bar scene was a tad more controlled, but compared to the debauchery on display last year, not a very high bar to hurdle.



 Daily Hampshire Gazette Break Page 3/11/13

And while the downtown merely simmered, the north end of town boiled over.  Yes, another Meadow Street marauders incident.

 Blarney Blowout taxed our first responders

Part of the problem is the bars naming that which should remain nameless, thus giving impressionable youth more of a reason to party into unconsciousness (not that some of them need a reason).

And giving immature cheerleaders who profit off such boorish behavior, a reason to celebrate.

As Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe pointed out last week, the "Blarney Blowout" has taken on a life of its own.

The only good news in all of this is town officials can get the attention of rough-and-tumble business owners by threatening to pull their permits.  It worked a dozen years ago when these same bars (under previous management) were flagrantly violating the town's groundbreaking smoking ban.

Amherst and State Police in riot gear prepare to break up Townhouse Apartments "party" 

So I hope the Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods Working Group is paying attention.  Do you really want to get the attention of Party House landlords and give them an incentive to enforce civility?

Enact a rental permit system which allows the town -- in extreme circumstances -- to pull the permit, shut down the business, end the pox on our neighborhoods.

And yes, it's also time to end the "Blarney Blowout."


59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yur position is inherently contradictory. You call for more housing to be built that will accommodate students and then want the behavior to be controlled by landlords. The Neighborhood Committee has rightly decided that permits will not be pulled because of tenant behavior. What you are proposing would theoretically cause a housing shortage, which is the exact opposite of your call for more housing. Do you propose that Townhouse Apartments lose their right to rent apartments? It's just not workable. Perhaps you propose they hire a private security force? Imagine the liability when a student sues because they got punched by a private security guard!

Larry Kelley said...

The Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods Working Group has not yet decided anything.

Anonymous said...

Larry's a "kick-you-in-the-face" kinda guy... not so much a housing analyst.

Larry Kelley said...

Gets their attention.

Landlords need to take this mayhem seriously.

It only took one bar losing its liquor license for the coalition of Bad Boy Bars to fall apart.

Same thing will happen with landlords.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough.

Anonymous said...

So, give me a solution besides the vague take it seriously or get their attention. Obviously, these events are attended by hundreds, sometimes thousands of nonresidents at these locations. How would YOU deal with it?

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, you can't move the goalposts. The bars downtown did an excellent job of reducing the chaos. Don't try to stick them with N. Amherst. You are trying to bend the facts to your preconceived notion. The two are unrelated.

Larry Kelley said...

Tell that to Barstool Sports.

Anonymous said...

Larry said @ 10:34


"It only took one bar losing its liquor license for the coalition of Bad Boy Bars to fall apart."

What one bar are you referring to? Who were the Bad Boy Bars that fell apart?

Anonymous said...

Larry is trying to change the issue. The bar lost its license for serving underage students.

Anonymous said...

not better for a friend of mine! Hit and run DUI wrecked his car and fled the scene on Sat night. Scary thing is that the APD recognized the vehicle and driver by the description that my friend described. Scary.

Anonymous said...

Larry, why wouldn't Amherst not want these parties? The bars and fines bring back lot of free money to the town.

I don't understand why you're against these bars. The town can't legally say “don't sell alcohol on one of the best days to sell alcohol." Amherst should want these parties to generate revenue.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually the Select Board, acting as Liquor Commissioners, can suspend all alcohol sales for up to 48 hours, town wide.

Anonymous said...

"Actually the Select Board, acting as Liquor Commissioners, can suspend all alcohol sales for up to 48 hours, town wide."

Yes, but why would they?

Anonymous said...

The biggest crock of SH*T reported by an owned biased media .... read the facts: http://www.facebook.com/notes/amherst-ma-firefighters-local-1764/letter-from-the-president-of-local-1764-to-the-daily-hampshire-gazette/528009907251169

Anonymous said...

...nobody appreciated the extraordinary efforts taken every day by the Amherst Police and Firefighters.

Please. Let's not get too dramatic.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad anon 4:35 doesn't seek his news from an "owned biased media".

Anonymous said...

I by nature treat anything someone representing a union says with suspicion. I will not rely on the town's union members for my facts!

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, because there was not one but two amendments to the US Constitution, Alcohol is treated differently than other things such as rental of property -- the 21st Amendment explicitly authorizes it.

It is one thing to revoke a liquor license but I'm not so sure that revoking a rental license would stand up if the property met code. Bloomberg's Soda Ban just got struck down today -- I wonder how the town is going to have the authority to not let an owner use a property for a lawful/permitted/acceptable purpose (renting to tenant B) because of the past actions of Tenant A.

And the other question -- why are private security guards (who haven't been through the academy) considered acceptable but private ambulances (who are required to have the same licenses and thus same education as the AFD guys) aren't acceptable?

And one more wild card -- 46 USC 1983 liability to the town in the hypothetical case of the security guard slugging someone (or more likely, raping a drunken girl) -- not only would the landlord get sued, but as Amherst is essentially privatizing policing, because Amherst had required the employment of a private security service, Amherst would be liable the same way it would be if an APD officer did it.

And I am serious about the potential of a private security guard raping the drunken girl -- police officers have to go through a background check, but not security guards. And do you have any idea of who some of these security guards *are* -- and their backgrounds????

Dr. Ed said...

I will say this: I am uncomfortable with a union being the official conduit of information to the public. That's a management responsibility -- the union is free to publicize the information but they ought to have to get it the same way that everyone else does, from management.

Larry Kelley said...

Management put out the weekend run reports (emailed to Scott Merzbach and me) around 9:30 this morning.

Anonymous said...

Sure, Larry, but this Union Members written statement included a lot more "facts" and "information" than were included in the weekend run reports...

Anonymous said...

The 'almighty" union criticized the business downtown-- however it appears that the businesses attempted to contorl the crowds as compared to previous years by selling tickets and limiting entry and time spent at the bars. Maybe the "Blarney Blowout" started with the bars yeas ago, but even if the bars were closed, the students still would've partied in North Amherst. I think its unfair and irresponsible for the union to place blame on the business owners-may be causing unnecessary friction. I completely agree resources were stretched thin. Staffing is too low. We need more help. As a professional dept, may need to be a little more professional when making very public statements.

Anonymous said...

and the poster who linked the Union Members written statement to your blog prefaces it with "read the facts..."

Yeah, OK.

Anonymous said...

The job these guys and gals chose is inherently dangerous. They are compensated fairly. I don't want to hear them cry about how nobody appreciates their extraordinary efforts.

Lots of us out here make extraordinary efforts every day in our chosen fields, and few of us receive daily pats on the back for it. Many of us are underfunded. Do your job and stop whining, or seek employment in another field. Each of you could be replaced with an equal in a day.

But you know that and that's why you need to shield yourselves with Union membership.

Thomas Valle, Secretary Local 1764 said...

The statistical data presented on our site is a objective record of the department's emergency runs as recorded in the town's own database. This information is also provided by Fire Department itself on a weekly basis.

Larry Kelley said...

Simply put, the Gazette coverage (so far) of the "Blarney Blowout" had been an embarrassment to journalism.

Anonymous said...

As a professional dept, may need to be a little more professional when making very public statements.

Yup.

Out in the private sector, yeah, there are days when it gets real busy and employers have to call in guys who were scheduled for the day off. Boo Hoo. It's called work.

Great, I'm glad the secretary has assured us that the statistical data on their site is blah blah blah... Problem is your Presidente included a LOT more than statistical data in his blast. Grow up, boys. No kidding there's not a lot of money and we need more help. Times are tough. We ALL are working at a deficit, excepting those of us in the private sector who are doing well (and they are few and far between these days.)

You guys aren't doing yourselves any favors with public statements like that.

Larry Kelley said...

Said the guy who doesn't have the balls to sign his name.

Anonymous said...

you idiots are totally missing the point. police and fire aren't whining, they are trying to alert us that these riots are sucking their resources and our tax dollars and it is not out of the question that they will be so busy with this BS that YOU won't get help in time Mr. Taxpayer. they are understaffed on a normal day!

Anonymous said...

Larry, you ball-less hypocrite, why won't you post my comments?

Anonymous said...

police and fire aren't whining.

The Union President clearly stated that he wondered why "nobody appreciated their extraordinary efforts" and questioned why the Gazette didn't choose to write stories about the extraordinary staff on the police and fire forces. He was clearly saying that they are under-appreciated, and I assume that because he wrote those things, he intended their meanings, as well as to alert us to the dangers we are exposing ourselves to. (No one disagrees that more cops would be better... so would more teachers and dpw workers and so on and so on.)

Larry, I am having a reasonable conversation here and I am responding to another blogger who does not seem to get what some of us are saying. It's OK to criticize the form the Union President of our tax-payer funded town firefighters, obviously many of us are very put off by some of the things he chose to say on behalf of all the town's firefighters. (I assume they all joined the union.) Please post this so we can continue our discussion.

Dr. Ed said...

The statistical data presented on our site is a objective record of the department's emergency runs as recorded in the town's own database. This information is also provided by Fire Department itself on a weekly basis.

The problem I have is that you are presenting it BEFORE it is available to the general public, and that is a violation of the state ethics law (I think) -- at the very least it is the same sort of thing that I have had to deal with professionally on many occasions and had to keep my mouth shut on something I wanted to scream about until it made the newspaper.

Are you making Sunshine requests of the Chief to obtain this data? Or are you just going into the computer that you have access to as a firefighter, and/or asking the members what runs they went on?

THAT'S the problem, not that you shouldn't publicize this stuff (you should); nor that you are wrong (I doubt you are, at least as to number of people on duty and number of runs, it would be too easy for someone to find out and call you on it). And you are doing a valued public service in posting this stuff -- don't get me wrong on that -- people don't know how thin the staffing lines sometimes are.

But this information really needs to be released by the town officially before you post it -- not a day earlier which is what I believe happened here.

Anonymous said...

Larry,

You've no compassion for these kids at all. You've got no good will towards them. If you were truly as insightful into the students' behavior as you fancy yourself to be, you would realize that this behavior is a result of their environment, and that many of them may be fostering or developing alcohol dependencies. It would be refreshing to see you write a report that focuses on helping these kids, and productively criticizing their behavior, instead of chastising them and calling for more arrests and rampant dissemination of their personal information.

Earnestly

B

Thomas Valle, Secretary Local 1764 said...

Dr. Ed,

Thank you. I appreciate your comment. To the best of my knowledge, sharing this information before it is "officially" released is not a violation of ethics laws, but I will certainly look into it as this is certainly my intent. In that same light, the Department is well aware of our practice and has never raised issue with it in the past.

In response to the numerous other anonymous comments: We will handle the drunks. We can handle the behavior. We will handle as many calls as we receive, but we can only handle them one at a time. Those calls that are received when the Department's resources are maxed out will be forced to wait precious minutes. This is not a threat. This is the reality of our system. Local 1764, regardless of your personal feelings towards unions, is trying to demonstrate that it is our COMMUNITY that is in imminent danger because of the ongoing under-staffing issues.

It is not only Local 1764 who raises this concern. Chiefs, Assistant Chiefs, Mr. Kelley, and concerned citizens have all attempted to address this issue in the past. We will continue to advocate for a fire department staffed appropriately for the size of our community.

Feel free to visit our website or contact Secretary@amherstfirefighters.org for more information.

Anonymous said...

To the angry anti union folks who consider their job to that of a firefighter/paramedic who literally holds someones life in their hand on a daily basis, I say this; The statistics the Firefighters union presented are true. You can comfirm any of them. Their arqument is not about more people needed to do less work. Their argument is that you and your families have and will continue to suffer from delayed ambulance and fire responses that occur on a near daily basis. If you don't believe this, all you have to do is check the run numbers and response times. If you're wary of the union's integrity than get those numbers from the town directly. Nothing is made up. The numbers are all public record. When you have to do more with less in your job, the quality of a human life does not suffer. When the Fire Department doesn't have adequate resources and has to do more with less, the quality of human life does suffer. When your parent is having a stroke or a cardiac event and the nearest medical help is at least 20 minutes away, because it's coming from out of town, their heart or brain suffers more damage. Thus their quality of life suffers.

Anonymous said...

"The job these guys and gals chose is inherently dangerous. They are compensated fairly."

Hey Pal, cops and firefighters don't get paid to have bottles thrown at them every weekend. Great attitude- I hope everyone of them is tied-up on this bullshit when you need them for an emergency.

Quite a few great ones have left this town because of attitudes like yours.

Anonymous said...

What about the engineers who design and build the life-saving equipment our firefighters and paramedics learn to use use? Surely none of our safety personnel could do that... how could the paramedics job be more important than the engineer's whose without none of us would have any chance.

I can think of lots of other examples. So in other words, Yes, I do consider my and other's job to be equal to paramedics and firefighters. We've all got important roles, there are many unsung heroes out here that get little recognition when a life is saved.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and there are teachers dealing with stuff they are not paid to deal with, secretaries in town hall dealing with stuff they aren't paid to deal with...

I never could stomach the whole "not my job" attitude.

Anonymous said...

Engineers, because they are more highly trained and demand for the numbers of them are lower, are much harder to replace than a paramedic as well. I know guys who academically barely made it through high school who became cops, firefighters, paramedics... It really doesn't take a whole lot more than desire to do those jobs, go get the training.

Now, let's move onto, hmm, teachers and why their jobs are just as important as paramedics, and who make just as many extraordinary efforts as firefighters and police officers...

Anonymous said...

How about the people who make sure our communications systems are working at all times?

Can't go out on a call to save a life if you don't get the call...

Anonymous said...

To the angry anti union folks who consider their job to that of a firefighter/paramedic who literally holds someones life in their hand on a daily basis, I say this; The statistics the Firefighters union presented are true.

No one disputed the statistical facts offered in the letter from the Firefighters Union President. It was the non-factual stuff--taking shots at local business leaders, expressing disbelief over being under-appreciated--that some of us have a problem with.

When a sentence starts with "It appears" I am not filled with with confidence that the rest of the sentence is objective.

Show me the objective data that reveals that firefighjters and police "dealt with angry citizens". (Uh, yeah, teachers and school administrators deal with angry citizens every day.)

The letter was not simply written to provide statistical data. That would not require letter form, it would require a page of statistics, with no condemnations of local business, town administration, or local news reporters.

Anonymous said...

You think School Psychologists don't often "literally hold someone's life in their hand"? How about Social Workers who go and investigate allegations of child abuse? less important than the paramedic?

Anonymous said...

YEAH,
AND WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO WANT KNOW IF YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT?

Anonymous said...

Well here is an idea for you. When your house is burning, your kid is choking, you are being raped or robbed, or your house has been broken into, don't call the police or fire dept. call an engineer or a teacher, or an IT guy.

Anonymous said...

So how many of you wear a ballistic vest everyday to work? I didn't think so. Have you ever wrested a knife from someone? I didn't think so. Probabaly never was involved in a playground fight either.

Anonymous said...

hell no, I'll call the police and firefighters, I pay plenty for those services, and they get compensated well for performing the job.

Ok, when you need to design a machine that can see through walls and determine if a human being is behind it during a fire, or a ladder that can reach 10 stories high, or a gun that can halt a violent criminal with a blast of electricity, call one of your paramedic friends. And when your kid is contemplating suicide, don't call a psychologist or a doctor or a social worker, call a firefighter. And when the opportunities in your kid's life has a low ceiling because she can't compete in math and science on a global level, call a cop.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many cops, in the line of duty, have wrested a knife from someone. I do know some teachers who have wrested guns and knives out of someone's hands, been punched in the face, they've had to confiscate alcohol and drugs... I know that almost as many teachers as cops were killed by guns last year. So i'll figuratively say, yes, i have wrested a knife out of someone's hands. Teachers don't wear ballistic vests, despite their obvious need for them, and so we fund the police department adequately to be the ones who wear the vests. Doesn't make them more important members of the community, nor are they the only members subjected to dangerous conditions. Wanna be a nurse in the emergency room in Springfield on a Friday night, with no helmet and gun and vest?

Anonymous said...

Not a bad idea: Uniform our teachers and nurses with protective vests and make the cops wear drab scrubs... they're much tougher, they can handle it.

Anonymous said...

The topuic here is not who does what with how much or how important ones job is. The fact is that the AMherst Fire Department is severly understaffed. You can look at any date you want and you can't disprove that fact. The only item of importance here is that when they are tied up with these kids who are drunk and high, MY family will have to wait for an ambulance from another town. The fact is that if you live in any of the towns that the department serves or are at any of the colleges that the department serves, YOU will have to wait for an ambulance from out of town. If you or your family are having a stroke or a heart attack, minutes make the difference between go back home or spending ythe rest of your days in a nursing home drooling because you didn't get help in time. That minimum ten extra minutes it takes to get back here from Northamton is literally the difference between life and death or lving an active life and being in a coma. Union, no union, paid, volunteer, whose job is more important doesn't matter.

Dr. Ed said...

I know guys who academically barely made it through high school who became cops, firefighters, paramedics...

I do too -- and they are some of the best ones as well, for the very same reasons why they barely made it through high school. There are things that are needed to be good in these jobs, not everyone is.

But there are other dangerous jobs, going up in a bucket truck in the rain and working around 13,700 volt power lines comes to mind. And one measure of danger -- on the job death - the last time I saw it --

Most dangerous: Fishing, farming & forestry -- the three are combined for statistical purposes, and commercial fishing (which I have done) is three times more dangerous than the other two.

EIGHTH most dangerous: Firefighter
TENTH most dangerous: Police Officer

And how many jobs have work-related stress both as a disability and as a reason why you can retire at a younger age? Cops can retire in their early 50's, get a full pension, and have a second career.

Dr. Ed said...


So how many of you wear a ballistic vest everyday to work?

Police officer, 10th most deadly job, Commercial Fisherman -- MOST deadly job with an annual death rate in excess of 1:1000 employees. Yes.

Have you ever wrested a knife from someone?

I wouldn't be stupid enough to let it get that far - and I routinely went places as housing inspector that an armed police officer wouldn't go without a partner.

And I am the person who once convinced a dozen members of the Latin Kings that we didn't need a problem that day, and we didn't have one. I still remember the report I once wrote that, under trash, had the notation "man sleeping in dumpster" -- I saw some fun places.

The "Storm Trooper" approach is not the only way to resolve things - and I really wish that more police officers understood that.

Dr. Ed said...

And when your kid is contemplating suicide, don't call a psychologist or a doctor or a social worker, call a firefighter.

I wouldn't call any of the above -- I believe, as John Locke did, that we are all entitled to our own Lives, Liberty & Property -- that these are rights given to us by God and which can only be taken away from us by God. Hence have a religious objection to coercive psychiatric "care" -- even if it for one's own good.

I would resolve the situation myself, and have in the past - on more than one occasion. I think that the tragedy of Newtown, CT shows us how well the psychologists do, and don't even get me going on social workers.

Anonymous said...

If your kid is contemplating suicide, don't call a social worker or a psychologist or a firefighter...

call Dr. Ed! He's talked many down from the edge!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Doctor Edward... You are sooo very rugged and manly... you are my hero...

Dr. Ed said...

Say what you want, the cultural schism between the so-called "helping professions" and everyone else is growing so wide that the middle is going to cease to hold.

I already am way more impressed with what I am seeing the clergy doing, I've seen them do a lot more for kids in crisis than the Voodoo Scientists ever could have dreamed of doing.

The Jennifer Keeton case was a shot across the bow and since then I have been hearing talk of creating a "Christian" alternative to the APA -- and at that point, it will be just like with Ostbeopathic Medicine -- some of the "Bible-Belt" states will license these people as Psychologists on an equal standing with those coming out of APA-approved programs and then things will get really, really interesting.

I hate to tell you this folks, but the unwashed masses are starting to sharpen their pitchforks and wrap burlap around sticks and we still haven't seen the DSM-V, have we? The people aren't going to stand for this foolishness indefinitely...

Dr. Ed said...

Hopefully helpful followup on the ethics law:

The general thing is a prohibition on "unwarranted privileges or exemptions not properly available to similarly situated individuals." Say, hypothetically, I wanted to put up a web page with the same information on it, could I obtain it the same way you do -- no -- and that is why I was thinking it might be a violation of the state ethics laws.

The relevant section of the ethics law appears to be 268A MGL 23(C)(2) which states that you may not "improperly disclose material or data within the exemptions to the definition of public records as defined by section seven of chapter four, and were acquired by him in the course of his official duties nor use such information to further his personal interest."

This is where it gets complicated.

The AFD database itself is not a public record -- some, not all, of the information therein is public. But when does it become "public" -- I would argue that it is when it is released to the media, e.g. to the public, and that it isn't public before it is released.

A summary of the ethics law for municipal employees isn't exactly helpful here, but worth reading anyway: http://www.mass.gov/ethics/education-and-training-resources/implementation-procedures/municipal-employee-summary.html

Beyond that -- I honestly don't know -- I'd give them a call: (617)371-9500

Personally, CYA comes to mind, and I'd get a written ruling, one way or the other, just to be safe.

Anonymous said...

At least no one cares about the Blarney Blowout anymore. Hilarious conversations. Thanks for the chuckles...

Larry Kelley said...

After (belated) stories in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Amherst Bulletin, Springfield Republican, TV stations Ch 40, Ch 22, Ch 3 and most recently (very late) the venerable Boston Globe, I think the damage has been done.

But glad you found it entertaining (sarcasm).