Thursday, May 1, 2014

Democratic Bully Pulpit

Vince O'Connor on the attack


Vince O'Connor is now 1 for 2 after last night's epic fail at an attempt to hack 10% from the Planning Department budget, which was to go hand-in-hand with with his 79-74 victory Monday night to increase Social Service spending (charitable organizations) by $125,000.

So obviously many of the 79 Town Meeting members who supported his motion to bring Social Service spending back into the routine budget disagreed on his version of financing that.

Even though Mr. O'Connor last night backed away significantly from his original plan to cut $200,000 from Planning Department by reducing the amount to $100,000 -- still a 10% cut. 

O'Connor also appeared yesterday afternoon at the Rental Implementation Bylaw Group to discuss his other (of many) Town Meeting articles, #42, which originally would, "suspend the operation and enforcement of the Rental Permit bylaw" until a new more "inclusive" committee is formed.

Yeah just what Amherst needs: yet another committee, working group, or task force.

This too he has now watered down significantly by removing the threat to "suspend the operation" and now simply wants the new committee to make recommendations.  Building Commissioner Rob Morra will take Mr. O'Connor's suggestions to the Town Manager and if he buys in to the grand scheme O'Connor will move to dismiss Article #42.

Kind of a toothless threat since Town Meeting overwhelmingly supported the Rental Permit Bylaw last year  and like all new bylaws it also had to pass muster with the Attorney General.  And yes some folks (parties with a vested interest no doubt) tried unsuccessfully to sabotage that.

Plus Article #42 is last on the list of a l-o-n-g Warrant.   When the weather turns terrific with thoughts drifting to summer vacations, the last thing Town Meeting members want to do is listen to Mr. O'Connor drone on, and on, and ...

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it wrong to want to hear Vince read the Gettysburg address at town meeting. Give him a top hat and it might be considered a historical re-enactment. No disrespect meant here. I rather like Vince. Don't always agree with him, but he has a great depth of knowledge and is always up for a discussion. With better focus he could have been an unstoppable statesman.

Someone take control, please! said...

One day Vince'll reflect on all this "activism"


and quietly think to himself


"wow".


Until then Vince,

this Bud's for you.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDLlOmRa4kY


Idiot.

Anonymous said...

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood at Amherst Town Meeting,
One posted well in advance by the Finance Committee and the Select Board;
The other sketched out in an impromptu motion by Vince O'Connor, and I--
I took the well-worn one traveled over exhausting hours and hours of deliberative meetings of several town boards,
And that has made all the difference.

Anonymous said...

Have you all lost sight of the fact that it it Town Meeting that has budgetary authority and control? The school committe, finance committee and Jones Trustees are coming in with recommendations and it's Town Meeting's final say. Remember that? So what's wrong with a town meeting member seeking a change in the numbers? Remember the War Memorial pool funding vote.

Anonymous said...

No, we haven't lost sight of who has budgetary authority and control.

It's about where the WISDOM in town resides, inside committees, i.e. groups of people, dedicated to studying and deliberating about proposals OR with one solitary individual who chooses to go around those committees straight to Town Meeting, where there are absolutely no guarantees how much and how long members have thought about what they're voting on.

Call it "quality control" in decision-making.

Chris said...

One MAJOR difference between what happened Monday and the War Memorial vote, is that the War Memorial adjustment had a chance to be debated in the Select Board, Finance Committee, probably the Budget Coordinating Group. So the pros and cons had had plenty of chance to be aired. In fact, it was a Select Board member who made the motion to amend the budget.

On Monday we had a single person make a proposal, more or less out of no where, with a motion that was so poorly worded that Town Meeting had to halt for ten minutes while Vince and the Moderator struggled to find a legal way to phrase the amendment.

And consider that whereas the original funding method for the social services actually had Town Meeting vote on how those funds would be allocated, we've now lost that power. Presumably the town will use the percentages that were in article 21. But because of Vince's change, there's now no way of confirming that that reflects Town Meeting's priorities!

Regardless of how you feel about adding a Social Services line to the town budget, that vote was NOT a shining example of Town Meeting in action.

Town Meeting has the right to ignore the result of the months-long budget process and debate. But it's really unfortunate that the petitioner completely skipped over that process keeping us from having an educated debate on his motion.

Anonymous said...

As of last night, 46 (nearly one in 5) of 252 total TM members, have failed to attend either session. These include noted gadflies Maurianne Adams, Paola DiStefano, James Oldham, Carol Gray, Isaac BenEzra, and Denise Barbaret. Where were Vince's friends when he needed them the most? [perhaps they took the road less traveled?] The full list of shame:
Pct Last Name First Name Address
1 DISTEFANO PAOLA 115 MONTAGUE RD
1 HART JOLENE K. 129 MEADOW ST
1 KELLER, JR GEORGE R. 120 PULPIT HILL RD, #25
10 ADAMS MAURIANNE 14 BESTON ST
10 BENTLEY RICHARD N. 24 NORTH PROSPECT ST
10 BRAUN STEPHEN R. 180 LINCOLN AVE
10 KLINE CHRISTINE A. 18 NORTH PROSPECT ST
10 RHEAULT REGINA B. 71 NORTH PROSPECT ST, #1
10 TAUB JENNIFER LYNN 259 LINCOLN AVE
2 CLAPP DANIEL E. 40 BLACKBERRY LN
2 HOLSTEIN CAROLYN M. 190 EAST LEVERETT RD
2 JOHNSON ROY A. 109 BLACKBERRY LN
3 BEAL ERIC D. 161 G PINE ST
3 CARROLL KATHLEEN M. 11 FISHER ST
3 GIORDANO ROCCO F. 17 EASTMAN LN, #211
3 MORTON BRIAN D. 9 VAN METER DR
3 O'BRIEN PATRICIA 22 HARRIS ST
3 TARONE PIETRO C. 46 HOBART LN
4 ANDERSON GREGG EDWARD 45 DANA ST
4 JENSEN ABIGAIL M. 100 DANA ST
4 JOHNSON CAROL M. 21 SOUTH SUNSET AVE
4 SMITH AUDREY YALE 45 DANA ST
4 MANDEVILLE HAYLEY MARIE 620 MASS AVE, #608
5 GIRAUD MELISSA E. 360 SOUTH PLEASANT ST #2
5 GRANT-THOMAS ANDREW P. 360 SOUTH PLEASANT ST #2
5 OLDHAM JAMES BURGESS 17 COLUMBIA DR
6 CAIRN RICHARD D. W. 100 HEATHERSTONE RD
6 KLEINHOLZ LISA 203 HEATHERSTONE RD
6 MORALES VICTORIA 4 LAUREL LN
6 TURNER FAYTHE E. 129 HEATHERSTONE RD
6 VANDERLEEDEN KEVIN H. 73 CURTIS PL
6 WRONKA JOSEPH M. 4 CHADWICK CT
7 ATWOOD CHARLES B. 69 POMEROY LN
7 GRAY CAROL 815 SOUTH EAST ST
7 HARVEY EDWARD V. 40 FARMINGTON RD
8 BenEZRA ISAAC 1164 SOUTH EAST ST
8 HOOKE RUTH F. 218 SPENCER DR
8 MOSELEY FRED 70 LARKSPUR DR
9 ANDRESEN GAVIN A. 45 HIGH ST
9 BARBERET DENISE RENEE 67 NORTH WHITNEY ST, #1
9 GROSSCUP BEN T. 67 NORTH WHITNEY ST, #4
EX SARAT AUSTIN D. 76 SNELL ST
EX TRAPHAGEN KATHLEEN G. 496 SOUTH EAST ST

Anonymous said...

Corn oven icon

is an anagram for Vince O'Connor and makes about as much sense as his foolish propositions. Tellingly, another anagram is
Convince or... no?

Or perhaps we could call him the priestly "Rev. Cocoon Inn"

Anonymous said...

Austin Sarat was in the house last night, sitting in the front of the room. So he should not be listed as "absent".

Perhaps.....he did not check in with the clerk.

Anonymous said...

Would you trust a Town Meeting member who walked in, heard a previously unannounced motion to amend an article recommended as originally worded (and enumerated) by the Finance Committee and the Select Board, and, without any further reflection about its consequences to the rest of the budget, then voted "yes"?

Does that work for you as good governance?

Two-fifty-two said...

The above information I posted about absentees is from the official attendance list; it's possible one or more simply didn't check in.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? GROSSCUP BEN is an actual name? What's his middle name, Threegirls?

Anonymous said...

An anagram for Amherst Massachusetts is Sarcasm Sheathes Mutts.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 2:20

Thanks for raising the level of discussion on this blog.

You couldn't figure out that the last names come first? You are in no position to ridicule anyone, never mind one's name.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Ben Grosscup is even funnier. Thanks for pointing that out!

Sincerely,
Ben Trollin

Dr. Ed said...

I'm not so sure it is appropriate to post people's home addresses on the internet.

Just sayin...

(And yes, for what it is worth, I did have second thoughts about posting Jason Vassell's Social Security Number.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, and a town meeting member made another motion on the floor-- that is the process! It's in the rules for a reason--so town meeting members can make motions from the floor. Is this unclear?

Anonymous said...

The ironic thing though, was that Vince who is sponsoring SEVERAL articles related to either housing or eminent domain taking (the latter in service of economic development in town) put a motion forth to REDUCE the size of the planning department--the very department whose job it would be to IMPLEMENT the articles he hopes to see pass. Really, Vince????

He takes up more town government and volunteer committee time than anyone in Amherst--including those who are duly elected and/or appointed to serve.

Anonymous said...

Also to point out committees and boards do not have the legal authority to adopt zoning changes, approve budgets, authorize spending, adopt by-laws. The tail does not wag the dog.

It's all town meeting's power, since before the US was a country.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Connor IS a duly elected member of the government of the Town of Amherst (and has been elected and re-elected) for many years).

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Vince has been elected and re-elected to serve in our "representative" Town Meeting.

Only in Amherst, indeed!