Monday, March 14, 2016

A Heavenly Sign

March 29 election this year is on same date as 11 years ago

I was rummaging around my basement over the weekend looking through boxes in storage untouched  for many years when I stumbled across one containing remnants of the past two Charter campaigns.

While there were two votes on the Mayor/Council/Manager form of government, the first losing by an agonizing 14 votes and the second two years later by 252, only one Charter Commission was ever formed as the 2nd vote was simply a do over

For the first go round the state required 15% of the registered voters to sign a petition calling for a Charter Commission which at the time came to 2,600 signatures, but to revote the exact same Charter a second time required 10%.

Either way pretty much all the signatures were collected single-handed by the most determined man in the history of Amherst, Stan Durnakowski.

Stan went on to be elected as one of the nine Charter Commission members and worked hard to convince fellow Commissioners we needed a strong Mayor & City Council, pretty much mirroring our good neighbor to the west, Northampton.

That concept lost by a 5-4 vote and the Commission endorsed a weak Mayor, Council and Town Manager.  At the time Barry Del Castilho was a popular Town Manager and the Commission probably thought it best to keep him around.

 Time for a change!  More so than just daylight savings

But this coming March 29 is a blank slate.  Voters get to approve the formation of a Charter Commission with nine new members who never served before.

Voting yes on Question One is only half the battle.  Choose your 9 Commissioners wisely:

Stan will be watching!


Anonymous said...

Larry, are you suppoting these 9 candidates because they support ending town meeting and going to a strong mayor and city council?

Larry Kelley said...

No, I support them because they seem to understand a major overhaul is needed for out town government and not just a tweaking of what we have now.

Anonymous said...

We could have a mayor and town council for the town budget and zoning and keep town meeting for the discussion of national issues -Middle East policy gmos etc

Anonymous said...

Town meeting is no way to handle finances in this day and age. In it's day it worked well, but now our society makes it obsolete.

Anonymous said...

Northampton City Council has track record of voting non-budget, non-zoning issues, often before Amherst Town Meeting does.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed last night's League of Women Voters' panel of Charter Commission candidates. Readers please read the two websites: and to learn more. The Town Meeting Works website has lots of commentary and information about the Charter issue. Amherst For All--not so much. There is lots to think about on this critical issue, not just slogans.

Janet McGowan

Anonymous said...

We are so doomed if people actually think town meeting works. It is a joke. People show up late, knit, chat, have no clue about the warrant -one guy even started singing about gmos.

Larry Kelley said...

Westfield is still know as "The whip city" even though the manufacture of whips died off with the advent of the automobile.

RIP Town Meeting: we knew ye too much.

Anonymous said...

They still make whips in Westfield

Anonymous said...

Hi Janet

Amherst For All existed only to get 15% of the voters to sign the petition.
That was accomplished in just 280 days. (NB: It would have taken 279 days, if you had signed 1 of the 4 times you were asked).

Amherst For Change is advocating for particular candidates. AFC doesn't pretend to speak as a single voice. Instead, its a chorus of 9 voices.

MAYOR Bernie Sanders said it best: "a political revolution is coming"

Larry Kelley said...

Newsflash: at one distant time Westfield had six whip factories.

Dr. Ed said...

Facts matter: Westfield manufactured buggy whips, which were used with horse-drawn carriages. "Horseless" carriages, i.e. automobiles, didn't use them.

If the number of vehicles on the road today still did, they'd be 600 factories in Westfield...

Anonymous said...

Second newsflash: Amherst For All lives. It has a facebook page with comments re: its position and appears to be endorsing its Slate of 9.