Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mighty Vince Strikes Out

Vince O'Connor

Maybe Vince O'Connor should have led off his first of four presentations with a "thank you" to Town Meeting for even allowing his first -- and by far most controversial article -- to be moved to tonight, since it came up on Monday and he was not present to present it.  

And attending a basketball game in Springfield is not exactly a great excuse not to be present. 

After about an hour of discussion O'Connor's motion to authorize the Select Board to forcefully take by eminent domain a building recently purchased by Amherst College failed in a most telling way:  Town Meeting, by a 81-72 Tally vote, supported a "Motion to Dismiss."

Even more telling, that definitive motion was made by one of the least liked members of the august body.

Next up O'Connor's resolution to support a House Bill that would allow Section 8 vouchers to count as affordable housing units to artificially keep Amherst above the 10% Subsidized Housing Inventory failed on a voice vote.

His last two articles -- tax credits for landlords with Section 8 low-income tenants and reconfiguring the Rental Bylaw Implementation Group -- would have failed outright if voted on as originally presented, but each article was saved by being "referred back to a committee." 

A nice way to send them off to die quietly (with at least a little dignity).  

Tonight's Town Meeting wrap up:   Four citizen petition articles disposed of -- all of them from Vince O'Connor. 


Anonymous said...

Those glasses. That beard. The sweater-vest. This guy strikes out on fashion, too.

Is there a maximum number of articles a member is allowed to propose in a month/year, etc.? You could essentially filibuster any of these sessions with a bombardment of nonsense.

People like Vince want to feel like they are one of the town leaders, but sorry pal, no one's following.

Larry Kelley said...

Problem is it only takes 10 signatures to get something (anything) on the warrant for Spring Town Meeting.

And yes, you could use the same ten people to sign for ten different articles.

Anonymous said...

"that definitive motion was made by one of the least liked members of the august body"

...whose name is...?

Are we just supposed to guess?

Anonymous said...

A trust fund baby with nothing better to do.

Anonymous said...

I don't get Vince. Is he an egomaniac? Has a god complex? The guy didn't even apologize for missing Monday night's meeting (let alone wasting all our time for nearly 3 hours last night). He's out of touch but unfortunately and inexplicably has a loyal (and crazy stupid) following.

Larry Kelley said...

Anon 7:23 AM

That would be little old me.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a "thank you" or an apology would have been appropriate at the beginning of his remarks.

So an entire night dedicated to his articles began with just a touch of disrespect from him.

Anonymous said...

That "definitive motion" (to dismiss), which required a simple majority of those present, was completely unnecessary from a parliamentary standpoint on an article that required a two-thirds vote, and possibly extended the discussion, which ran on for over an hour.

The motivation and logic of the person bringing the motion was not clear.

Since some who were opposed to the article might have thought that a motion to dismiss was unfair, unwise, and a time-waster, and voted against it for that reason, we will never know just how opposed the body really was to the substance of this terribly misguided article.

Thanks, Larry.

Rich Morse

Dr. Ed said...

"... allow Section 8 vouchers to count as affordable housing units to artificially keep Amherst above the 10% Subsidized Housing Inventory failed on a voice vote."

Ed is smiling...

Chapter 40B wasn't written with Amherst in mind as the community was a bit different back in '69, but it well may be what ends the whole charade.

Yes, I can see a tax-credit funded developer being the spark that ignites the Zeppelin Amherst, sending it crashing to the ground in flames. UMass is offering an overpriced and poor quality product in an increasingly competitive marketplace, its customers are so dissatisfied that they routinely riot -- it simply is not sustainable, the good jobs at better wages aren't going to be there indefinitely.

The social & economic viability of everyone in the established order is dependent upon overpriced rental housing. Even people like Vince benefit -- while he may not be benefiting financially, he would be viewed very differently in a community where those who work aren't struggling to afford living in the same type of housing he is.

Property values in Amherst are largely a factor of the housing needs not only of UM students but also UM employees -- and the scarcity of rental housing. A sudden increase in supply could do a lot of things, not the least being a dramatic increase in the K-12 enrollment. Imagine what Team Maria's largess would be doing to the town budget were K-12 enrollment what it was circa 1995. Enough said?

Yes, Chapter 40B could be the little nudge that sends everything cascading into the abyss -- and Ed would LOVE to see it happen...

Larry Kelley said...

Actually Mr. Morse the motion to dismiss does send the strong message of just how absurd O'Connor's idea was.

And if it had gone to a vote, yes it would have failed but there would never have been a Tally Vote.

At least now we have a written record of who needs to be defeated at the next election.

AL Wilbur said...

Why don't you "TOWN MEETING" spend time on something useful for all of us?? Especially the senior citizens with limited funds... LIKE MAYBE GET OUT LEAF COLLECTION EQUIPMENT BACK IN OPERATING ORDER. Some people don't have a yard to pile the leaves up for compost and elderly don't have ability or the funds to stuff leaves into a paper bag.. Try doing something GOOD for us for a change.. INSTEAD OF WASTING TIME with making things up just to hear yourselves talk and cost the citizens of this town money..

Anonymous said...


You and nine of your friends (that's all) can bring an article to Town Meeting on leaf collection or whatever. Instead of wasting time bitching on here and reading yourself, try doing something GOOD for a change and participate. Don't tell us you have something better to do.

Look in the mirror, Al. You can get elected to Town Meeting for a song.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with Al Wilbur. Cut a few admins (any department will do) and give the DPW the resources to clean things up. Normal communities come around and pick up yard waste; this would have a huge positive effect on the appearance of the town - and likely on student behavior. "Broken window" theory, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Town meeting is just a social event, so all the concerned members don't have to stand on the town common on sunday to feel good about social injustice. Save the whales and spend the tax money. Oh, let's buy electric lawn mowers. and free housing for the poor, but fuck the working person, they're just evil anyway...

Dr. Ed Part 1 said...

Larry -- a bit of housing technical stuff that you and others may not be aware of -- and may find interesting.

First, as I understand it, the relevant Chapter 40B threshold isn't that the unit has to be subsidized but that the rent (including both heat & utilities) must be no more than 30% *of* 70% of the area's median income -- which in Amherst is a distinction without a difference from "subsidized" because everything in the rental market is so vastly overpriced.

Amherst is considered part of the "Springfield Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area" (or something like that) and "median" is half above/half below, last I checked the relevant median income figure was about $50K, maybe a little more.

If I've done my math right, 70% of $50k is $35K, 30% of that is $10,500, which comes to $875/month and must include both heat and all utilities. The $50K figure is household, including ones where both Mommy *and* Daddy work, and the $875 figure includes apartments big enough for both them *and* all their children. And that's $875 less both heat and utilities...

What's not said about the Section 8 tenants being priced out of Echo Hill (and what even the tenants themselves may not know) is that in Amherst, Section 8 *already* pays 120% of what HUD considers the apartment to be "worth"!

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 -- and commonly known as "Section 8" requires tenants to pay 30% of the household's gross income as rent (less deductions) with the US Taxpayer paying the rest, up to the "rent reasonable" figure. The tenant is permitted, but not required, to pay up to 40% of household gross income if desired -- this is where the "40% of income" figure often quoted comes from, and it is important to remember that the program itself does not require them to pay more than 30%.

Three important points here: (1)If the tenant has no job (or neglects to tell the housing authority about the job), the tenant's share of the rent is only $25. Yes, there are quite a few people in Amherst who are only paying $25/month for their apartments.) (2)As it is 30% (or 40%)of gross income, before deductions, it can become a considerably higher percentage of net income. (3)The live-in boyfriend (or girlfriend) is considered a member of the household and 30% (or 40%) of his/her/its income is ALSO supposed to be going toward the rent.


Dr. Ed Parrt 2 said...

Part Two: Section 8 Info:

Three important things to note here -- and yes, I'll take credit for some of the things in the pipeline to address a few of them:

First: We actually penalize single mothers for working -- she will actually have less money at the end of the week if she's working than if she isn't. Taking just the Section 8 program, she's paying 30% (or 40%) of *gross* pay, *before* FICA is deducted so she is actually paying a higher percentage of her net pay. She's also has real work-related expenses -- transportation, often clothes, childcare and such.

If she sits on her sofa and watches MTV or BET all day, she's better off financially -- I'm not sure everyone knows that.

Second: If the tenant has "no income", the "tenant share" of the rent is $25, regardless of the size/cost of the apartment, with the taxpayer picking up the rest. At present (although Ed is getting this changed) if he/she/it "forgets" to tell the housing authority about the job, the tenant only pays $25/month in rent.

One of my *many* personal favorite stories is the guy who had "no income" because he donated it all to the Buddhist Temple (he probably was making $40K/$50K as a truck driver hauling produce to Boston) who also was driving a Jaguar which another member of the Temple technically owned.

This guy, with "no income" mind you, built a house out on Metacomet Road in Belchertown -- a nice house that we are now paying him to rent to himself. It is a little bit more complicated than that, but he is living in a house that he owns and which we are paying him to rent to his family. I am not making this up...

Third: The issue with the live-in boyfriend (or girlfriend) who "doesn't live there" isn't one of morality but instead one of fraud. The tenant's share of the rent is 30% of *household* income, which includes 30% of the boyfriend's income as well.

Reality is that the boyfriend buys her toys -- grotesquely large television sets (some bigger than my *car) were in vogue for a while, and those things cost several thousand dollars. Alcohol and assorted illegal substances aren't cheap, and boyfriends (whose own driver's licenses may be suspended for unpaid child support) often finance these indulgences.

I'm not saying that was the case of Liberty Lynn the other night, only that it fits a scenario that I've seen a lot of, right on down to the Class II Narcotic the APD found in her purse.

Another I've seen is that when the housing authority which issued the voucher (in addition to the AHA, at least a half dozen *other* entities administer vouchers in Amherst) gets to the point where it can actually prove that the boyfriend *is* living there, and hence has a case against her for fraud (grounds for her to loose her voucher), she'll take out an Emergency 209A.

The police are essentially *required* to give those out to anyone alleging abuse, and that really is the way it should be -- these are the emergency orders issued on a temporary basis until there can be a court hearing in the morning.

Maybe she'll show up in court, maybe she won't (and maybe she really was being abused, these boyfriends tend not to be nice men -- many are drug dealers) -- but she'll take the 209A paperwork the cops gave her into the housing authority as proof that the boyfriend doesn't live there -- and as she is now a "victim", her fraud issue goes away.

And she'll do it again. And again......

While her neighbor, also a single mother, wonders why the hell she is working at Walmart...

Anonymous said...


I do not believe that there were 72 votes in the room in support on the substance of Vince's first article.

I would submit that some subset of those 72 voters were opponents of the article who thought that you were being a jerk with your motion, that the article was due to be voted down on a voice vote easily and put out of its misery anyway.

A motion brought simply to create a tally vote where there wouldn't otherwise be one is an unnecessary parliamentary maneuver, and contributes to the overall length of Town Meeting proceedings.

I considered voting against your motion (and then reluctantly did, because I wanted the thing over) because I thought you were wrong in bringing the motion.Meg Gage's remarks, which you may or may not have processed, indicated she agreed with me. There may have been others who actually cast their votes consistent with that belief.

The 72 votes may delude Vince into thinking he had more support than he did. If you cannot acknowledge that this was a mistake on your part, I hope that your readers do. You cannot claim that, last night, you stood outside of the problems that plague Town Meeting process.

Rich Morse

Dr. Ed said...

"Some people don't have a yard to pile the leaves up for compost and elderly don't have ability or the funds to stuff leaves into a paper bag.."

There are UMass students who would LOVE to help you with this, particularly if they (a) felt welcomed/invited and (b) felt that there would be genuine gratitude from the community.

Bluntly: If there was something in it for THEM.

Reality 101 -- boys & girls are looking to meet each other and *that's* why a lot of them are hanging out at the events where people throw things at the cops.

Particularly the girls -- they really don't want any part of the riot stuff -- most of them only weigh 100-130 lbs and it's rather scary to be (or potentially be) in the midst of an altercation between two groups of men who are so much bigger, heavier & stronger than you are.

People want to be valued, and young people are looking to meet other young people. You won't do well with "getting the University to have/make them" do this -- nor would you much want the kids you got as they are being punished for something, they neither would be coming with an attitude you wanted nor really be the type of people you wanted anyway.

But if you can somehow make it "cool" (or whatever the current adjective is) -- if you can somehow make this an event/activity they'll regret not having attended either because of who else was there and/or the accolades those who participated in it enjoy, you won't have a problem with your leaves anymore.

Doesn't the town have a "Senior Center" or something that could try to organize this?

Besides -- isn't it more work raking up all the leaves and hauling them to the curb than it is to bag them once you get them there???

Larry Kelley said...

Well Mr. Morse that was a pretty dumb thing to do.

Now you added to the problem of Vince thinking he has greater support than reality dictates.

Just like Meg Gage added to the problem by getting up and wasting a couple minutes saying that I'm wasting Town Meeting's valuable time. That's Rich (no pun intended)

The reality is I'm three-for-four on "Motions To Dismiss" over the past 12 months.

The NIMBY article to take Cinda Jones property in North Amherst and the $15/hour minimum wage terminations both passed overwhelmingly, and last night's torpedo to the good ship Vince not quite as overwhelmingly.

But democracy is majority rule -- and the majority of Town Meeting agreed with me, in spite of my being "a jerk."

Anonymous said...

"Yes, I can see a tax-credit funded developer being the spark that ignites the Zeppelin Amherst"

Ed, you always go off into cuckooland. While other are working hard and succeeding, you are wasting time wishing others ill.

BTW, if as you say the UMass product is so inferior, that doesn't say much about your supposed title of "Dr."

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rich Morse.

I've often seconded motions "for discussion purposes" that I didn't necessarily support but because I felt that those with whom I don't necessarily agree ought to have an opportunity to "make [his/her/its] case."

And as to Vince, the problem is the unique set of circumstances and nature of Amherst which accords him a level of social respectability that he would otherwise not have.

The system worked -- his stuff didn't pass (and wouldn't have) and never forget how Title IX passed Congress. You might manage to actually get a Vince article passed....

Anonymous said...

I'm with Larry. When these radical (and radically stupid) articles are proposed, you've got to shoot them down like clay pigeons, else the proponents are emboldened to carry on...and on...

Anonymous said...

Leave out stupid.

It was unconstitutional.

The people in the room were ready to shoot it down, before Mr. Kelley ever opened his mouth.

Larry Kelley said...

And shot it down with Drone like accuracy.

Anonymous said...

Just curious - what does Vince do for work, other than his so-called activism? Trustafarian?

Anonymous said...

Trust fund.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rich too. Larry refers to a motion to dismiss as "a no vote with an exclamation point". I disagree. The biggest exclamation point comes when an article is dismissed on it's own lack of merit.

And, it's silly to say that a vote to dismiss was the only way to get a tally vote. A tally vote occurs when at least 15 people ask for it. They have become a regular feature of town meeting in recent years for all kinds of motions.

This is about Larry availing himself of a parliamentary procedure that functions to elevate his own sense of importance; similar to the way Vince's self-sponsored articles are meant to elevate those same kind of feelings in himself.

Except for the politics involved, there's not a whole lot of difference between the two of them. They both know what's best for the town based on their own, superior opinions. Engaging in meaningful discourse or with differing viewpoints is of no use to either of them. As is evidenced by Larry's response to Mr. Morse's reaction to his motion:

"Well Mr. Morse that was a pretty dumb thing to do."

Larry and Vince = smart

The rest of us, not so much.

At least according to their own elevated opinions of themselves.

Larry Kelley said...

Smart enough to know you should stand behind whatever you say with your name, rather than cowardly cloak yourself in anonymity.

Notice the Moderator never lets a Town Meeting member say anything without first revealing their name and precinct.

Dr. Ed said...

"While other are working hard and succeeding, you are wasting time wishing others ill."

Who says I'm not "working hard and succeeding?"

For that matter, what makes you think I'm just "wishing"?

Some people's recreation is going to Patriot's games, mine is slightly different.

Anonymous said...

Who says I'm not "working hard and succeeding?"

If you were, you'd be damn sure to tell us all about it.

Anonymous said...

Ed, since your "recreation" is wishing failure on others, it is highly unlikely you will be a success yourself. Negative energy rarely brings that positive result.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Ed, you win the Schadenfreude olympics.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 4:11 p.m. for making me Google the meaning of Schadenfreude. I'm always learning stuff here! (Seriously.)

Dr. Ed said...

If you were, you'd be damn sure to tell us all about it.

I take much greater pleasure in knowing how much some people want to know what I am doing -- and not being able to find out.

No, I could be on the ballot for Congress and I'd not tell any of you schmucks...

Anonymous said...

Ed, Ed, Ed, Ed, Ed...

How on earth can you expect anyone to believe that you have the discipline to withhold even the tiniest scrap of self-aggrandizing information about yourself? You've repeatedly regaled the world with every ridiculous and scarcely credible tale of your righteous struggles and selfless saving of countless lives. We breathlessly await your book, followed by the Hollywood adaptation.

Yes, Ed, silence about your overwhelming success is the ultimate revenge -- because we all care so very deeply about you.

Anonymous said...

Nice try Ed. Gainfully employed people don't get so bent out of shape when someone (in a blog comment, no less) calls them unemployable. They just shrug and get on with their work.