Monday, March 28, 2016

Echos Of A Distant Battle

March 29 election could have best annual election voter turn out in 11 years

When I realized today's local election was on the same date as 11 years ago when the Mayor/Council/Manager government failed for the 2nd time I started getting that deja vu vibe, which grew more overpowering with the controversy that arose yesterday over the School Committee race.

Rereading all the emails that ricocheted around the Internet leading up to epic showdown only reminded me how much work went into the effort -- collecting the thousands of signatures, the more than 50 meetings of the Charter Commission over a year-and-a-half, and the public relations campaign to support passage of the new form of government.

While I'm confident the Charter Question will pass handily tomorrow I was also pretty confident this time eleven years ago that the new government proposed by that Charter Commission would pass, which obviously it did not. 

If the Charter question does not pass tomorrow, abandon hope all ye who enter here.

##### 

Bev & Stan Durnakowski (SnBDurn) and I formed our own political action committee "Mayor Council Yes" since we were unhappy with the Charter Commission for choosing not to go with a Mayor/Council (voting 5-4 against it) and eventually coming up with a Mayor/Council/Manager.

In other words, we kind of held our noses and worked for passage, figuring it was still w-a-y better than our current Town Meeting form of government.

The regular pro-Charter folks formed "Charter Now", which we jokingly referred to as the "Charterista's."  And the opposition formed "TownMeetingWorks.org" as they have done again in the current campaign.

Jim Pitts was Vice Chair of the Charter Commission and strongly believed in the strong Mayor/Council model that was narrowly rejected by the Commission. His 3/30/05 memo to Bev and Stan the day after the defeat moved me to tears.  

Twice. 


Proposed Charter lost April 1, 2003 by 14 votes and by 252 votes on March 29, 2005.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

It got turned down before. Was the town ruined? No. It's been a great place to live.

Larry Kelley said...

But could be better. Lots better.

Anonymous said...

Wait until Vince runs for mayor before deciding.

Larry Kelley said...

If he can't get elected to School Committee, he surely will never be elected mayor.

Anonymous said...

Here's to hoping that Amherst voters reject an undeserving candidate (read: O'Connor) for School Committee. And make no mistake that Amherst is "a great place to live" because of reasons other than the town meeting form of governance.

Anonymous said...

I wish all the pro Charter people spent as much time and money working on boards and committees, encouraging people to run for Town Meeting, suggesting reforms, donating to our parks, libraries and schools, and so on. Instead we again have a divisive atmosphere, well funded it seems by the major property owners and families in town. Don't they have enough money? Let's work together as we have for hundreds of years and give up this divisive Charter effort. It is a great town. Treat it with respect.

Larry Kelley said...

You call $2,300 "well funded?"

Eleven years ago TownMeetingWorks.org spent $7,000 to defeat the proposal.

Kevin Collins said...

I got my postcard, me and 3,475 other petition signers. Take that Dinglehoffers.

Mark Warren said...

Plus...wasn't the most given by any one "fatcat" just 300 dollars? And weren't there just two of these cats? Wasn't every other donation under 50 bucks?

Larry Kelley said...

Barry Roberts gave $500, but that's about it for high rollers.

Anonymous said...

If you're still on the fence, see the Stephanie O'Keeffe Facebook post urging a YES vote tomorrow.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

"I think I can clear this up for folks.

The current system is like a small tree.

The new proposed system is like a large shrub.

Under the current system, we will cut down all trees over 10' and all shrubs under 9' because they are a nuisance.

Under the new system, we will preserve all trees under 9' and all shrubs over 10' due to their uniqueness."

Anonymous said...

I just voted Yes on 1 and the full pro-charter slate.

Larry Kelley said...

Great!

Now contact a few friends and remind them to do the same.

Anonymous said...

Just drove by a few polling places and at each one I drove by Vince and no charter vote folks have illegally placed signs too close to the polls. Hope officials remove them.

Anonymous said...

If the signs are illegally placed, surely someone (anyone) can just pull them up and throw them away?

Anonymous said...

$2K or so spent by Amherst For All, $3k by Amherst For Change, then $5k that will be spent by the Town for charter consultants, plus the $30K on the warrant asking for more money for charter consultants, then maybe $10-15K fighting for a mayor, then the big money comes rolling in….money for the mayor and council members running for office, then $$$hundreds of thousands for the mayor's salary and the city councilor salaries for years to come. Think about it. All for the best college town in the country and one of the best places to live in Massachusetts.

Anonymous said...

If people are going to blame Town Meeting for all that is bad in Amherst, they also need to credit Town Meeting for all that is good. Only fair.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. Town Meeting is bad because its 240 members constitute an unrepresentative (white, older, homeowning, etc etc etc) body of decision makers for a far more diverse community. The solution is to replace those 240 people with 10/15/20 town councilors and a mayor, who almost certainly will be white/older/homeowning/etc. The decision on how to proceed in this affair should be entrusted to a slate of Charter Commission candidates who are almost entirely (if not entirely) white/older/homeowning Amherst residents. Does anyone else find this line of reasoning baffling, if not self-contradictory?

Mark Warren said...

I find the issue to be accountability....I just voted at noon at the Munson library and there were only two other voters there....

Anonymous said...

When Vira ran for school board, Shabazz reported online that intimidation and other civil rights violations were occurring at polling places in Amherst, and that VIRA signs were being stolen and destroyed. I wonder if any of these things are happening to Vince and his supporters this time around.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Mark Warren. No accountability = no interest. Also separate town elections are a terrible idea, we should have town offices on the regular November ballot. Too bad we couldn't rouse the student rabble to vote for the charter commission. Though that could definitely help as to any potential changes. Would the charter vote be on the regular November ballot? Also, I would love to see a UMass undergrad with a populist bent run as a councillor.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, if a Mayor/Council or Mayor/Council/Manager is passed local elections will switch to November.

But the actual vote to change to that form of government has to take place at the annual election in the spring.

Dr. Ed said...

You might wind up with a UMass student as Mayor -- that could be done, and as this would have to be a salaried position, quite attractive to graduating seniors otherwise looking at UNPAID internships in Boston or DC. Even $50K would be twice what most PolSci folks could expect to earn, anywhere.