Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Last Man Standing

Paul Bockelman is a Hampshire College graduate

The Amherst Select Board surprised Town Meeting at the start of our 6th session by announcing contract negotiations with their #1 pick for new Town Manager (by a 3-2 vote) Maria Capriola fell apart and they were appointing their #2 pick Paul Bockelman assuming they can finalize a contract.

 Click to enlarge/read
Staying in Connecticut

Ironically this came on the same day the Amherst Public Schools decided to redo a search for a new principal at Fort River School because of the three finalists only one remained.

But the difference here is the Select Board had used a very careful process right from the start that attracted 70 initial resumes distilled down to a final three, or the best of the best.

 Paul Bockelman at 4/27 public forum.  Bernie Lynch (left)

And then they set up highly public meet and greets so the general population could weigh in.

Because the Select Board had hired a temporary Town Manager, Peter Hechenbleikner (also not their first choice) who hit the ground running, they did not feel pressured to rush things.

Paul Bockelman has experience galore.  We're in good hands.

After all, #2 tries harder.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Ms. Capriola for making the wise and brave choice.

"Contract negotiations fell through" equals "there's no amount of money in the world that would get me to move my family to this community."

Shouldn't we re-open the search, considering two finalists backed out?

Anonymous said...

Fire HR, she has a hard time getting any deals done. Look closely at this chaos, school dept. chaos, police arbitration and many complaints from employees.

Anonymous said...

To the ignorant ding-bats and the know-it-all fat-heads who have had lots to say on facebook in the last two weeks since the job was offered to Capriola: YOU and your crummy town are NOBODY's "first choice", nobody agrees with everything YOU say or do, go gaze in the mirror HARDER! People don't act like YOU do in other communities. It's YOU!

To the cowards who sit back and watch it all happen, or stand up half-heartedly and with disclaimers, it's YOU! Nobody wants to come work in a backwards, chauvinistic little hell-hole, where the people eat each other instead of take care of each other, and everyone makes believe nothing is wrong with them, that it's someone else that's the problem.

Amherst deserves its second choice.

Rick Hood said...

10:17 makes a good point.
When we did the Superintendent search in 2010, the consultant we used for search (from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates) did not know much about Amherst before he took the job. Once he learned, he called me and was not sure he wanted to do the job anymore, because of what he found out. He ended up doing it, but he said “this is going to be really tough”. He pushed very hard for higher pay range to compensate for it. We went higher than we wanted to, but not as high as he wanted. Sure, headhunters always want you to do that, but his call about what he learned about Amherst was genuine. He'd never seen anything so bad and he had been doing it for decades.

Anonymous said...

Clearly she watched Monday night's Town Meeting. That was enough to scare anyone away.

Anonymous said...

Larry, your blog can be toxic.

Why state he is 'last man standing'? The write-up is nice, and he is an excellent choice.

Larry Kelley said...

If you were ever a competitive athlete or a small business owner you would know it's actually a term of respect.

Silly me, I thought someone would misinterpret it as sexist.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. This blog is toxic. Many times what Larry reports is great! He hears things first around town very often. His drone pics are great! But the comments are usually awful. It's a wonder Maria Geryk has had the courage to stick it out for so long. I guarantee you that once she leaves we will be hard pressed to find a replacement. No one would touch this job with a ten foot pole. And it sounds like we might even have a hard time finding a head hunting outfit willing to help us. I've lived in Amherst for 40 years and I'm close to selling my home and moving because of how bad public discourse has gotten. Just watch Monday night's town meeting session. We are so in need of a mayor and town council!

Larry Kelley said...

Simple solution: Don't read the comments.

Anonymous said...

As far as Monday night: the (ir)resposibiliy for that rests squarely on the shoulders of the Moderator and his ridiculous rulings.

Anonymous said...

That's not a solution Larry. This blog is contributing in a big way to the all around toxic nature in town. Whether I read the comments or not is immaterial. The town's toxicity will continue whether or not I read the comments.

Larry Kelley said...

So you would prefer to stick your head in the sand and pretend there is no toxicity?

Or even worse, have me censor it.

Anonymous said...

Really Anon 9:13 - Architect/space planner Carol Gray was showing pictures of individual rooms in the Jones Library. Oh look, you don't need a new library because the Burnett Gallery has all this open space.

Anonymous said...

OK, there's toxicity, Larry. You've made your point. It's time to get YOUR head out of the sand and realize that you are a major player in town. I believe that you are already doing some moderating. It's time to draw the line differently.

Your blog bears some measure of responsibility for the overall toxic image of the town being conveyed to outsiders.

I believe in your basic decency and your love of the town, Larry. But your blog has become a cesspool.

Rich Morse

Larry Kelley said...

The answer to bad speech is more (good) speech, not censorship.

Or put another way, the answer to toxic speech is more soothing rational speech from foks who has the balls (or ovaries) to I.D. themselves.

Anonymous said...

Larry, you and your ugly friends are the one who sticks your heads in the sand, by saying things like, people won't come to work here because of things like indigineous people day, rather than facing up to the FACT that the behavior of YOU and YOUR friends online, and people like Demling at meetings, and the parents at their poison keyboards, drives people from wanting to be here. You and yours are in serious denial. You can't twist these stories anymore, everyone is on to you and your friends and your nasty way of being here, even people in other states. They're telling us that, Larry!

He has basic decency, Rich? Show me. There you go with the disclaimers again. "Now don't get me wrong, I know Larry loves the town more than anything, and it's not him, it's his blog..."

Larry Kelley said...

And you are?

Nina Koch said...

If that's your belief, Larry, you should put an end to anonymous commenting.

I feel like people rub their hands with glee when they find out something bad happened, just so they can come on here and say something mean that they won't be held responsible for. They say that the town officials are thin-skinned because they can't take the criticism, but I would argue it's the anonymous commenters who are thin-skinned. They can't take the response they would get if they attached their name to their hateful words.

Larry Kelley said...

"A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once."

Larry Kelley said...

Because Nina some people fear retribution from the Powers That Be.

Nina Koch said...

I don't believe that retribution argument at all. I bet that a lot of the people saying mean things are not in any position to be a target of retribution. Quite a few of your readers don't live in town.

And what does that say about our teachers? Do you honestly believe that a teacher would make a child suffer for something his or her parent said on a blog? To the contrary, I think most teachers would go out of their way to be fair to the child.

In any case, I think you would find that the tone of the dialogue would immediately change, so there would be far less material for people to be mad about.

Larry Kelley said...

Feel free to start your own blog and institute any rules you wish.

I believe Mr. Hood had one for a while and used commenting rules similar to what you propose.

Nina Koch said...

The point is that your blog is causing a problem for the community. You love your sitemeter too much to give up all the traffic generated by the snark. Some people come here just to see the latest mean thing that has been said.

Why don't you contact Maria Capriola and find out if she read your blog? Wouldn't a reporter want to ask that question?

Larry Kelley said...

She didn't respond to the Gazette so it's a safe bet she would not respond to me.

And according to the venerable Gazette it was simply a money issue, not my blog.

Anonymous said...

I also imagine that the process of evaluating our town's form of gov't that may well result in the loss of the Town Manager position would also be part of her calculation. She may well have determined the cost of moving her family (real $ and dislocation) and the possible limited time frame of the position (~3 years?) plus the compensation didn't add up to a wise choice. Let's be honest, although the school leadership has gotten plenty of heat on this blog, our previous town manager (rip) received pretty much just praise and support (w the exception of some nutty conspirarist nimby's) for his efforts and devotion to his job and our town.

Anonymous said...

The people who work and live here and who spoke personally with her know differently than what Brewer reported to the Gazette and which they simply repeated. No one does any journalistic research in these parts anymore.

Anonymous said...

I think several rude, unnecessary comments about her on Larry's facebook page within a couple of minutes of it being announced that she was offered the job maybe got her attention, got her looking deeper and asking more questions about our town and its social and political culture.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't bet on it.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, read Larry's blog BECAUSE it is toxic. Isn't that the best thing about any internet comments section? Bring on the snark! If our local politicians are swayed by a bunch on anonymous cranks like me, then their skin isn't tick enough to do the job. A strong leader isn't swayed easily.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't we re-open the search since two of the three finalists backed out?

Cinda Jones said...

As a Hampshire grad, Paul Bockelman is probably free-thinking and creative enough to lead our wackyass town. He'll definitely be more satisfied with the salary he's offered than Capriola was ... you know, since women are offered 70% of what men are for the same position... BAHAHAHAHAHA

Anonymous said...

Okay so no one knows why Capriola did not take the position and salary, right? Yet many somehow know what her real reasons are because….?….the outcome reflects their belief system about the town, govt, town meeting, charter commission, schools, the world. Every reason given here is supposition, saying more about the person writing it than anyone else. Please, settle down folks. Enjoy the dogwoods and lilacs flowering.

Anonymous said...

Shut up, millionaire.

Anonymous said...

This is surely a topic worth investigating. I hope someone can ferret out the truth.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the Alisa Brewer select board. You really know how to pick them.

Anonymous said...

Aaaaaand there's the official reaction from the town's no. 1 representative of the business community, folks.

Larry Kelley said...

I'm still trying to figure out if that was sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just choose whichever conclusion suits your outlook and go with it.

Larry Kelley said...

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Or a Rorschach test.

Dr. Ed said...

"And what does that say about our teachers? Do you honestly believe that a teacher would make a child suffer for something his or her parent said on a blog? To the contrary, I think most teachers would go out of their way to be fair to the child."

Larry, I remember standing in a lobby after a SC meeting listening to a father, almost in tears, telling you how his fear for his daughter's physical safety had precluded him speaking that night.

Sorry Nina, you may be that noble, but....

And perhaps Ms. Capriola, who is from a college town, saw the same pending implosion of Amherst-qua-"college town" that I do.

Rick Hood said...

@Cinda +1
"probably free-thinking and creative enough to lead our wackyass town"
I like it... wackyass ...adjective perfecto.
[A sense of humor is important when you live here.]

Anonymous said...

Nina, you are a hypocrite.
Look back at what you have written and commented on throughout the years. Kindness and professionalism does not shine through on much of your thoughts.
And yes, Larry is right in that it is not a safe climate where one can talk openly without fear of reprisal.

Anonymous said...

So, now we're looking for a "creative" and "free-thinking" town manager with a "wackyass sense of humor"? Perfect! Because we've got ONE left to choose from, and he went to Hampshire, so, yeah, perfect!

Anonymous said...

Was this a failed search? TWO out of the THREE finalists the search firm and committee chose for us backed out. Should we re-open the search?

Anonymous said...

At the rate applicants drop out here, (2 out of every 3 finalists,) the initial 70 applicants you cite would have become more like twenty in due time, maybe even less, because 2/3 is only based on the number of people who bolt that we're certain of.

The search by the Select Board obviously was NOT done correctly, and they did NOT use a "very careful process right from the start, or we'd be CHOOSING from three candidates right now, rather than ACCEPTING one that was put forth out of seventy. Re-open the search and give us a choice from the glorious pool of 70 to choose from.

Larry Kelley said...

And you are?

Jackie M'Vemba said...

Little late for that, ain't it?

Anonymous said...

Yes, but it's OUR cesspool.

Anonymous said...

Welcome, Ms. Koch, to the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Typical comment. As though being a millionaire is somehow a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

No. Pick the one who didn't back out.

Anonymous said...

So the Select Board and a search committee and an expensive search firm do a far-reaching search, they put forward three people, two of the three people they put forward do not actually want to live and work in Amherst as a Town Manager...and that's a successful search for a 155K Town Manager, done right? Only in Amherst.

Larry Kelley said...

All's well that ends well.

Anonymous said...

All did not turn out "well". Pull your head out of the sand.

Larry Kelley said...

I'm a "the-glass-is-half-full" kind of guy.

Anonymous said...

It seems kind of wackyass to negotiate an enormous contract with someone from a position of zero leverage.

Since the Amherst town manager job is in such small demand, can we re-establish a fair salary range at this point?

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, the school department search resulted in: a qualified and popular middle school principal who wants to work here, who dropped out of the FR run to do that job; leaving a well-qualified woman (and a woman of color it might be noted) who wants to work here, to head FR as principal. And that's not good enough, that search must be re-opened.

Anonymous said...

"She didn't respond to the Gazette so it's a safe bet she would not respond to me."

Howard Ziff would be proud of your doggedness. Leave no stone turned!

Larry Kelley said...

Nothing stopping you from trying.

Although an Anon would probably not have much luck.

Anonymous said...

This blog is bigger than the town.

Jackie M'Vemba said...

Yes it is. And further, what would you have Larry do? Just hang it up?

Anonymous said...

Well, you Do censor it, do you not? Not all comments are published. I suppose that's your editorial prerogative.

Anonymous said...

The Constitution mentions free speech. It does not mention anywhere that it's only free if it's nice.

Anonymous said...

Venerable? The Gazette is a liberal rag. Infantile.

Anonymous said...

Speech. Free. Rude and unneccessary included.

Anonymous said...

No.

Anonymous said...

Hampshire grad? Free thinking? Please read leftist.

Anonymous said...

Why must "of color" be noted? Is white considered somehow less good? Is anyone else sick of this crap?