Monday, March 18, 2013

Blarney Blowout Fallout Continues

 Did the "Blarney Blowout" downtown cause riot in North Amherst?

The normally staid Amherst Select Board became uncharacteristically animated this evening when discussing the events of last weekend where riotous behavior on the day of the now infamous "Blarney Blowout" pushed our first responders to the breaking point.

And with all our ambulances and police patrol personnel tied up dealing with drunken college aged youths, average citizens who fund both departments with their tax dollars would have been left waiting if an emergency had occurred.   
Vice Chancellor for University Relations John Kennedy

Select Board member Jim Wald seemed to think UMass was trying to blame the town for the riotous event at Townhouse apartments simply because the "Barney Blowout" bar promotion was allowed to occur downtown this year.  SB member Alisa Brewer went so far as to say it was "flat out ludicrous"  and she was "ashamed" of the Letter to the Editor penned by administrator John Kennedy making that association.

The always sedate town manager announced a set of initiatives to address the problem as we head into peak springtime weather:  Musante has asked UMass to keep Health Services open later on weekends to help deal with drunken students, and to provide two staffed ambulances.

He has also requested increased joint patrols between APD and UMPD around the problem areas such as Townhouse Apartments and has authorized AFD Chief Nelson to use overtime to add staffing during the problems weekends coming up.

Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe pointed out that even after her strong lobbying effort prior to the Blarney Blowout, the University did not send out a mass email to all students warning about bad behavior.  She said they were afraid it would serve to "advertise" the event.  

O'Keeffe said the charges and counter charges now ricocheting between the University and the Town demonstrate a "sign of frustration."

Well at least they are not throwing cans and bottles at each other ... yet.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it shouldn't be up to the towns people which crime is more important. Perhaps the Amherst Police department can tell when there is an "Emergency", and when a bunch of college youth drinking.I'm sure they are competent enough to handle the "Emergency" first.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually I think the bigger concern is EMS.

At the Townhouse riot firefighters were being pelted with bottles and (full) cans of beer while trying to get to a passed out patient in the crowd.

At that point a "bunch of college youth drinking" rises to the level of "Emergency."

Dr. Ed said...

Amherst is a municipality, as is Hadley. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that there was some Polish ethnic holiday that was celebrated via intoxication and further that the
Amherst bars had some sort of celebration of this holiday with lots of the Hadley residents coming to Amherst and drinking more than they ought to have.

Anyone care to guess what the Town of Hadley would say if Amherst requested that Hadley pay for police officers to help patrol the streets of Amherst -- not mutual aid or coming to the assistance of an "officer in trouble" but that Hadley provide officers so that Amherst didn't have to pay for so many.

Hadley would say "it is your town, those are your bars (that you are licensing) and hence this is your problem, not ours." Why should UMass respond any differently?

Who is getting the property tax revenue from the bars (along with the 1% local tax surtax)? Who controls the liquor licenses?

Why should UMass have any responsiblity here UNLESS UM were to get control of the liquor licenses, etc.

Walter Graff said...

It's a college town. It's good for the bars in downtown. One day of a bunch of kids acting stupid is not going to hurt anyone, except them when they wake up the next morning. When you give kids liquor and make a day where they are supposed to drink and be stupid this is going to happen. How is that the University's fault? Because someone higher didn't write the editorial in the paper it's not valid? John is perfectly qualified to handle public relations for the school. That is his background and his job so why shouldn't he be able to speak for the school. Bottom line is the town is afraid to hurt anyone's feelings so the Blowout will be what it is. This town can't make decisions. Flip a coin in this town and it lands on it's edge. But then again it's not the towns fault either. We have created one generation after another, worse than the other. Now we have entitled, irresponsible, selfish, kids who are so vengeful that they'd waste chucking unopened cans of beers at police and fire. Why not? Someone run down and use mom and dads credit card to get some more.

Anonymous said...

So they aren't happy with the letter send by John Kennedy blaming the town/bars... Didn't a similar letter get sent by the Amherst Fire Union President to the paper?
Dont get me wrong, I agree with the Selectboard, but the Union should also be spoken to if thats the case.

Hugh Ganeous

Larry Kelley said...

Sort of. The letter to the Gazette (which they did not publish) was more about their pathetic coverage of the Blarney Blowout than the actual event.

But yes Union 1764 did (rightfully)say it's time to end the Blarney Blowout.

As did the Gazette in a better-late-than-never editorial

Anonymous said...

I assume of course that all the rental permits from Townhouse Apartments will be suspended.


The Future

Anonymous said...

Walter must be a blast to spend time with.

Anonymous said...

Poor Walter...

more than 18,000 towns in the US, he chooses the one he hates the most to live in and send his kids to school in...

Anonymous said...

Walter is only in Amherst for the big openings in movie productions around here. Sometimes you have to suffer to progress your career.

Anonymous said...

you love to talk about the tax payers but you always neglect the fact that the local economy thrives because of the students

Anonymous said...

Blah, Blah, Blah,, and the beat goes on. What does everyone really think is going to change here? I mean this with all the sincerity I can muster. All we do is chase on drinking event after another. First we shut down the Hobart Hoedown, then we will shutdown the Blarney Blow out. How long do you think it will take for a few thousand kids to come up with the latest version of beer pong? I concede to the fact this is a college town and this behavior will probably maintain itself and most likely worsen The best you can hope for is to keep some of the craziness under control, well at least till I can sell my house or hopefully rent it. I'm not a life time resident of Amherst, and my hometown is couple of towns over so tranquility is only a stones throw away. i really did expect more from Amherst when I moved here but it is true "the emperor has no clothes".

Anonymous said...

Blarney Blowout 2015-Welcome to the "Retreat"

Dr. Ed said...

Has anyone thought to inquire as to why AFD/APD personnel coming to the assistance of an injured girl were viewed with hostility and not appreciation?

Why the instant hostility?

Things are going to get exponentially worse in Amherst until you folks are honest enough to answer that question.

It also might be wise to read Machiavelli's Prince with particular attention to why he believed it essential for a king to have his people "love" him. Machiavelli was not encouraging ruthlessness as much as warning of the consequences of the use of force and arguing for it to be used sparingly.

In other words, tolerate things that you don't like and could suppress through force because the consequences of doing so will come back as future problems for you.

Right now it is only beer cans and bottles being thrown -- how long before it becomes rocks if not Molotov Cocktails?

And before you think I unreasonable in suggesting this could escalate to Molotov Cocktails, remember the Hobart Dumpster and what exactly was it that the perp threw in there to cause it to subsequently explode into flames?

Anonymous said...

So, the kids are having a fine party. The cops decide they have to "get things under control". Which of course then becomes a "riot". Who is to blame here? I've lived in Amherst for decades, these things have been going on for decades. But now the Police think they need to control things. How would you like it if they came to your party and said, "you have to leave: because we say so"?

Larry Kelley said...

Depends I guess on how you define "fine party".

The decision to break up the "fine party" came after firefighters were pelted with snowballs, bottles and cans.

How could you have lived here "for decades" and still be such an immature ass?

Anonymous said...

Do we know who called about the passed out patient?

Do we have footage of the firefighters being pelted with snowballs and cans?

You followin' where I'm goin' here, Ed?

Larry Kelley said...

I saw firefighters load the passed out female in the back of an ambulance.

I saw the snowballs, cans, and bottles flying. In fact I had a 24 oz FULL can of beer miss my head by only a few inches.

Keren said...

I have an idea.

Blarney blowout is welcome to happen. But the well publicized policy (maybe all the time not just this weekend) is that ems is happy to transport drunk students to the hospital. Anybody who needs transport due to drinking too much is required to "pay back" by doing community service at $8/hr until their ambulance bill is paid off. They can pick up trash, paint the schools, work in a soup kitchen whatever.

Nobody is exempt.

I guarantee you after the first year everybody will be really careful not to overdo it.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in Amherst for decades, these things have been going on for decades."

So have I (over 4 to be exact) and have 1st hand knowledge of police/fire/ems activity during the 1st "these" things have NOT been going on for decades. Check the records.

Anonymous said...

If I worked for the police of fire departments I would refuse to respond and let them beat the snot out of one another.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, Chief Livingstone sort of suggested that in a moment of frustration.

But every officer of the APD takes an oath to uphold the law.

And if they were on site, but ordered to only observe, and suddenly a young woman is being assaulted or EMS personnel are being pelted with bottles while trying to get to a young woman in need of medical attention ... I have a feeling they would disobey orders.

Dr. Ed said...

"these" things have NOT been going on for decades. Check the records

Students have always had parties -- but the violence started with the effort to prevent them. That was the point I was trying to make about why the APD/AFD are viewed as enemies and not needed assistance for injured friends.

Larry, I didn't know there WERE 24 ounce beer cans -- I thought they were just 12 and 16.