Monday, December 28, 2015

A Conflict of Interest?



 Interim Town Manager Dave Ziomek, SB Chair Alisa Brewer


Attorney General Maura Healey
Division of Open Government
12/28/2015


I wish to file a formal complaint about the 12/21 Amherst Select Board meeting that was chaired by Alisa Brewer, who shows up in the UMass/Amherst People Finder as a UMass employee, as does her husband, Steven Brewer.

Ms. Brewer did not publicly announce her potential conflict of interest when the Select Board voted unanimously to allow Interim Town Manager Dave Ziomek to sign a 3.5 year, multi-million dollar "Strategic Partnership Agreement" with UMass, her employer, that is a sweet deal for the University, a sour deal for the town. 

I'm not suggesting she or her husband gained financially by this deal, but I do strongly believe the better way of handling it would have been for her to abstain on the matter and certainly not to act as chair for the very brief time period allowed for Select Board discussion. 

I believe our state law suggests public officials avoid even "the appearance of a conflict of interest."

I would ask the Select Board be ordered to do a "do over."

Larry Kelley



At the 9/25 Select Board Cable Ascertainment Hearing Ms. Brewer did publicly announce she was married to Steven Brewer before he testified in his role as Amherst Media Board President

45 comments:

Dr. Ed said...

Neither is management as the state defines it, I think the state will say "shared common interest" -- 6000+ employees, 26,000+ students -- it's like someone on the school committee with a kid in the schools.

How did either gain here?

Larry Kelley said...

It's not the gain but the appearance of the potential gain.

Culling favor with your employer by not messing with them (as I most surely would have done.)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I do enjoy reading this blog, right or wrong, but.....

This claim is no more convincing than Mary Wentworth's attempt to connect the dots in her recent ill-considered video bashing Amherst For All.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

The expression is currying favor not culling favor.

Anonymous said...

Be careful with all your squawking old man. Your whole town is watching you.

Larry Kelley said...

Are you threatening me? (sarcasm)

But Mr. Morse, I can assure this will get far more page views than Ms. Wentworth.

Anonymous said...

There is a Amherst school employee who serves on the Pelham School Committee (SC) under the same boss, the superintendent, that she under state statute that as a member of the Pelham SC, she has the ability to hire/fire. That seems more of a conflict of interest to me than Ms. Brewer not indicating she is a UMass employee or abstaining from the recent Select Board vote. Numerous UMass employees have served terms on the Select Board, the Amherst School Committee, & various other Amherst town boards.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, and they would always announce their affiliation and usually leave the room while the discussion took place.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, Alisa Brewer is NOT a UMass employee!!!!

The @external.umass.edu ought to have been a big red flag, but if you click on the little arrow to the right, it expands her entry to give both her title and department:

Title: MSP Staff
Department: Massachusetts Society of Professors


That's the faculty union -- she works for the Mass Teachers Association, or the MSP or the NEA, or some combination thereof, UMass may actually cut her paycheck (maybe), but she works for the union. Her husband has faculty status -- I served on a committee of the Faculty Senate with him -- and it is the admin who fear the faculty senate and not the other way around.

Larry, you are wrong here....

Larry Kelley said...

Which is exactly why I worded it "shows up in the UMass/Amherst people finder".

Anonymous said...

If she's not a UMass employee then you need to do something even more drastic: apologize.

Larry Kelley said...

Even if she were an unemployed seamstress I would still have filed it based on her husband being employed as a, you know, professor.

Dr. Ed said...

Labor Law says they gotta put her into the directory.

Memory is that both the Amherst Police and Newman Center Priest are in the paper version, along with the Spanish-speaking domestic violence outfit in Northampton -- not that any of those folk work for UMass -- but that the numbers may be needed.

Larry Kelley said...

Her husband is a professor at UMass

It only takes ONE white crow to disprove the theory all crows are black. Or something like that.

Anonymous said...

Larry, your are right on this one. The very fact that she did vote brings
a lot of QUESTIONS into this arena. What the HELL was she thinking!
Only the worst in my view.

Anonymous said...

The town crier needs a muzzle.#snitch

Larry Kelley said...

Are you man enough to try placing it on me?

Anonymous said...

What happen to, #FreedomofSpeech.

Larry Kelley said...

Only when you agree with the Powers That Be.

Anonymous said...

This will be found to be completely frivolous.

Larry Kelley said...

My batting average in such matters is around .500, so don't put any money on your prediction.

Anonymous said...

Larry,

This was ruled on before, when she was a rookie and you raised a stink over treated effluent. You were wrong then and are wrong again here. Keep up the good work!

- YF

Larry Kelley said...

Actually my main complaint then was Selectman Rob Kusner, who was/is a UMass professor.

If memory serves he went into the Town Clerk's office a few days AFTER my complaint and filed a "disclosure" form listing his affiliation -- aka possible conflict of interest -- with UMass via his job.

I won the moral high ground on that one (and will again on this one).

Anonymous said...

Your memory is faulty and you're deluding yourself on this one - and I say that even though I agree with you that this deal sucks!

Anonymous said...

You may win this battle, but could end up a big loser.:)

Larry Kelley said...

Actually thanks for reminding me as I just now watched a Youtube video I put up back in 2007.

More about that tomorrow.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, the sun will come out tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

This isn't journalism. It's not even being a fiscal watchdog. It's just part of a "gotcha" obsession that won't do anything but waste people's time. You do better when you focus on real issues.

Larry Kelley said...

The "real issue " us we got a crappy deal with this new Strategic Partnership Agreement, and I will shine a light on that in every way possible.

Anonymous said...

Larry,

The issue is how to get the big non-profit institutions - Amherst College and UMass - to provide reliable, direct support for Town services commensurate with what their presence in the community entails.

Please focus on the matters themselves - ad rem - instead of wasting your (and our) time making ad hominem attacks on present (or former) leaders who commit (or committed) years of their lives to service on behalf the town.

You are at your best when you rise above your personal prejudices,

- YF

Larry Kelley said...

Actually I like Alisa and if not for her the flags would not be flying annually on 9/11.

She just screwed up that's all. Understandable considering extreme pressure the Select Board is under after the sudden death of John Musante and the sudden departure of Finance Director Sandy Pooler.

You also forget to mention Hampshire College who pays us NOTHING for AFD services, whereas Amherst College pays $120,000 and both require about the same number of runs.

And if/when that comes up for discussion I would expect SB member Jim Wald, a professor at Hampshire College, to abstain from the discussion/vote.

Anonymous said...

I would feel less like these posts are "gotcha"'s if Larry would call out all departments and leaders without prejudice when they screw up. Friends Of Larry's are often spared the spotlight or only receive glowing posts. It can really start to feel personal as opposed to being about journalism or local issues or the truth, and many people in this town have to deal with regular strange and concerning strangers addressing them everyday, like someone scrawling weird graffiti on a bathroom wall about you everyday, ("Just ignore it, scroll past"), while others are spared that reality. And then of course the herd with their pitchforks always show up. I think that's why so many individuals in this town feel bitter and unhappy about trying to be a positive, contributing member of this community. Working for the better of this town should not equal having to give up all respect and dignity and appreciation accrued until that point. Sometimes I feel like Larry and friends of his who are online are trying to embarrass people as opposed to be a watchdog or a check on authority and power.

Larry Kelley said...

Feel free to start your own blog.

Anonymous said...

The issue is our form of government.

We have a "strong town manager" form of government. It should be Dave Z. who is disclosing his/her conflicts of interest--if any--not Alisa. As Kevin Collins likes to point out, the Select Board is advisory.

Their conflicts of interest don't amount to a hill of beans. As as Kevin C. also points out, the 240 elected TM members never disclose their conflicts of interest.

Larry Kelley said...

As my Irish mother used to say, "Two wrongs don't a make right." Or 240.

Dr. Ed said...

For those who missed it above, "concerning strangers" is a psychobabble term with real legal implications. It's the plural of "person of concern", someone arbitrarily defined as both "crazy" and "dangerous" without any objective basis for either. Its how bullies in positions of authority silence their critics....

Anonymous said...

oh gee whiz, being called a "concerning stranger" by a stranger is bothering ed. sounds rough. just scroll past, ed.

I wonder what ed calls it when individuals post hundreds of cryptic and creepy messages, over the course of many years, to other individuals who don't know them. The first thing that comes to my mind is not "champion of the 1st amendment", it's "crazy".

Their homes are HUGE! said...

"I wonder what ed calls it when individuals post hundreds of cryptic and creepy messages, over the course of many years, to other individuals who don't know them. The first thing that comes to my mind is not "champion of the 1st amendment", it's "crazy"."


Cryptic and creepy?


Go for it, idiot.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ_FgwTanx0


-Squeaky Squeaks


p.s. Ed's right. You freaks ~ARE~ dangerous!

Anonymous said...

Rename that shit UMass Hadley, get a zip code change, and move along. The Commonwealth gains nothing from such a bunch of turd bags obsessed with their frivolous town. Call me "ageist" or whatever. Show's over. [Insert haiku or whatever here] #UMassHadley

Anonymous said...

Larry, if I thought starting my own blog would to any degree decrease the number of creeps that exhibit long and persistent obsessions with a few individuals in town who don't know them, or change the ill-feeling so many people have developed over the last many years about working or trying to serve in this town, I'd do it.

Dr. Ed said...

As someone who has received more EXPLICIT death threats than I care to remember -- including a few hundred thugs pounding on an office door and shouting "we're going to f*****g kill you!", I'm not so worried about cryptic and supposedly creepy messages.

Once you've heard a cop you respect radioing in an "officer in trouble" call, and he's behind you, with the threat in front, and you know that you have to keep talking for at least 180 seconds more -- 3 minutes -- because you are buying time for an evacuation -- once you've been there, you aren't do worried about emails.

Irritated, yes, but not worried....

Dr. Ed said...

"I wonder what [Dr. Ed] calls it when individuals post hundreds of cryptic and creepy messages, over the course of many years, to other individuals who don't know them. The first thing that comes to my mind is not "champion of the 1st amendment", it's "crazy".

Notwithstanding the grammar issues above, the first thing that comes to my mind is "Zaccarri."

Ronald Zaccarri, the Former President (i.e. Chancellor) of Valdosta State University in Georgia, wound up personally liable for $900,000 to a student who essentially did this.

It's on the FIRE archives - http://www.thefire.org -- as Yogi Berra used to say, "you can look it up."

It's also worth remembering that municipalities are considered "persons" under the 14th Amd, and hence under Section 1983.

Anonymous said...

Ed, for years you have been threatening lawsuits and promising exposes. They never come because there is nothing to them. You live in a fantasy world.

Anonymous said...

No to mention that Ed has predicted the complete collapse of UMass and the abandonment of its Amherst campus. Still waiting.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of white and black crows, consider the lib hatred for black crow Cosby and inexplicable love for white crow Clinton. Oh right. I forgot: Cosby spoke out in favor of a nuclear black family, and Clinton promulgated the welfare state.

Anonymous said...

Show me any media person who is not in the tank for someone. Or ones. How is Larry gonna be any different? You expect a lot.