Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Preaching To The Skeptical

Town Meeting cheerleaders rah, rah, rahing
The usual suspects
The Amherst Charter Commission had its largest turnout to date on Monday night for a routine meeting with a packed house of over two-dozen spectators for a presentation by perhaps the most unique subcommittee in Amherst, a town overrun with committees.

I say unique because the "Town Meeting Coordinating Committee Subcommittee on Policies and Procedures" is made up of seven individuals but five of them are NOT members of the Town Meeting Coordination Committee.

Who ever heard of a subcommittee made up of members independent of the main committee?

Even more interesting they had another aficionado present -- John Fox -- to the Charter Commision in their behalf described as an avid follower who is not even an official member of the sub committee.

Only in Amherst I guess.

Naturally all they offer is band aid solutions to improving Town Meeting, kind of like offering a final stage terminal cancer patient a vitamin pill.

A clear majority of Charter Commission members favor something other than the current Town Meeting for a legislative branch of town government, but they are still in the discussion stage; but time is starting to pass quickly.

Even head town meeting cheerleader Gerry Weiss is willing to consider a downsized Town Meeting but still wants it substantially large, probably to include the boatload of NIMBYs present at every session.

When asked by Charter Commissioner Julie Rueschemeyer  "what are the main issues you are trying to address?" TMCC member Chris Riddle responded "We don't have a main issue, we are happy with the way it is now.  We don't see a major problem"

The blind leading the blind.

 Select Board 11/28 discussed just completed 4 session Fall Town Meeting

Interestingly at last week's Select Board meeting during a post mortem analysis of the most recent Town Meeting Chair Alisa Brewer pretty much distanced herself from all things TMCC calling the Warrant Review, Bus Tour, and Precinct meetings they sponsor a waste of staff's time.

Further she said the town should completely disassociate itself from the not-open-to-the-general- public Yahoo Town Meeting listserve privately owned by TMCC member Mary Streeter.  Pulling no punches Ms. Brewer branded it "poisonous".


Fifteen years ago on of the biggest battles fought within that Charter Commission was over abandoning Town Meeting or not.

But they rather quickly (by a 7-2 vote) came to the conclusion Amherst could only be improved by ditching the quaint but antiquated good-old-boys-and-girls network of do gooders, mainly interested in self interest.


Anonymous said...

Unclear on the whole NIMBY thing. This blog is very pro NIMBY when policies are being discussed (but avoids the word), but makes fun of NIMBYs too on what seem to be random occasions.

Which on is it, are folks that want to have control of your property, your life, your money and rights in the right or in the wrong?

I guess the same issue applies to town people really think it is the government that is the issue or since it is a representative government, a republic no less, or is it really the people that are the problem and the brand of government just implements this awkward will?

Perhaps the issue is that too many things that come up are left to be decided for all individuals collectively in public at almost unthinkable expense, when really these decisions should just be left to the people themselves with no cost or time consumed by the public. It seems both the enemy and the solution to Amherst's never ending issues may be a more freedom and letting adults decide on their own.

A new form or brand of government is not going to change the real problem, a lot of very controlling people willing to trample the rights of others, often riddled with hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Amherst is a cesspool.

Anonymous said...

Not so unique. The University-Town of Amherst Collaborative (UTAC) has 3 sub-committees with little overlap.

It is true that you are one of the biggest NIMBYs in town, which explains why you love to use the label on other people.
It's called "reverse projection".

Anonymous said...

It could just be me, but it seems to me that by many objective criteria, Amherst is a very successful town--just as Massachusetts is a very a successful state. Almost all Massachusetts towns have Town Meeting. I think this is what Chris Riddle was talking about when he said that that our subcommittee doesn't see a lot of problems with Town Meeting. We are all Town Meeting supporters. I think you have to had lived in other states or places under other forms of government to see how unique and wonderful Amherst is, with its beauty, small town feel, miles of trails, cultural institutions, schools, collesges, university (and the very strong job base from those higher education institutions), museums, restaurants (including great momos at Himalaya), Atkins and other local businesses, hundreds of volunteers, and active churches and civic groups. Amherst is the result of a government run by volunteer citizens.

It's a New England thing to have paid staff working under elected citizen volunteers on the Select Board and Town Meeting. It's a New England thing to have a professional Town Manager, not a polical mayor, running town hall. It's a Massachusetts thing to lead the country in children's educational achievement, health and economic well-being. We are the incubator of universal health care, the leader of many political and social movements, including abolition, the right to vote for women, the right of gay people to marry, and heck, even the American Revolution.

Your neighbors and friends are working hundreds of hours to make our town better. Of course, everything and anything can go smoother and so we are working to improve Town Meeting's functioning. People, please send your ideas to stengthen Town Meeting to:

Janet McGowan
Town Meeting member, Precinct 8
member of Subcommitee on Policies and Procedures of
TMCC (Town Meeting Coordinating Committee)

Eat more, think less said...



"heavyweights" is more like it.

-Squeaky Squeaks


Scrooge McDuck said...

Or instead of emailing it, maybe just write it on a slip of paper and toss it down the wishing well.

Janet, sorry to stay a cowardly anonymous nitwit but unlike "most" Massachusetts towns, we do not have a true Town Meeting. We have a self-selected group of individuals who, by and large, put their own selfish interests first when it suits them. (For example, asking that the burden of affordable housing be distributed into the neighborhoods where TM members own their homes has been defeated - twice, despite lip-service). And Mary Streeter's Yahoo group is an obscene perversion and the antithesis of open government.

Frankly, it would be hard to conceive of a more opaque, unreasonable, and unaccountable form of government. I'm not sure anyone could design one if they tried. The sooner TM is dissolved the better.

Anonymous said...

Please give examples of how Larry is a NIMBY. Also I don't believe massachusetts ever voted on Gay marriage. I could be wrong. I am also suspicious of any argument that claims to be "objective", especially from a partisan!

Dr. Ed said...

Janet, half your citizens are excluded from any involvement -- for whatever reason, that's what happened n the Jim Crow South...

Anonymous said...

THis discussion is out of control! Do you really think that better, more intelligent, more thoughtful . . . people would run with a different form of government? you are surely joking.

kevin said...

Average age of Town Meeting members who vote on zoning, historically, is 67. Now, that is what I call "representative". You can't get any more "representative" than that. Because we *are* The Representative town meeting. It is in the title, it must be so. at least in zoning, average age of those who vote on zoning is 67. Out of 772 people who have been on town meeting since records were kept, the average voting on zoning is 67. Truly "Representative", wouldn't you say. 67, the average age of Town Meeting members who have voted on zoning. Sixty-seven. Can you say that? "Sixty-seven."

Anonymous said...

One of Larry's recent NIMBY moves was for the rental Bylaw, that is a big one, restricting housing in the place where he says we need more. Literally stating that minor inconveniences for others justifies reducing property rights and kicking people into the cold. Like a true NIMBY, the local gun toters are assigned to to the job vs. the people that want it done, who would not have the guts personally.

These was also this symbolic one where he did not want people not flying the flag near him. Perhaps that one is an inverse IMBY. Larry was even proud to go to the town to try to use special interest pressure to reduce the colleges rights or punish them.

When people take effort to publicize or enact regulations to restrict others use of their own property, that's a NIMBY. NIMBY represents one of the two types of rights, entitlements, where you take something and someone else pays. Usually entitlements are reserved for the needy, not the wanty. Alternatively one could embrace liberty. Just because a few neighbors agree or even 51%, still NIMBY.


Anonymous said...

Amherst style NIMBYS are pass the buck your typical material-someone else can own-pay for it-they can use it-then POOF..your GONE-taxed through the roof-all conveniently no accident-one of them moves in..USUPS you-just gotta remember-folks ONLY THEY get any USE of the pay-there way...then it's mega-school time..ex-urbanite yuppie wet dream..our bad..sick-sad world !(Feathering a nest-much ???!!) Just CRIMINALITY !!

Anonymous said...

Janet McGowan--How do you define "successful"? If your definition is high taxes/high welfare benefits etc. then you would be correct.
Massachusetts is bottom-of-the barrel for: 1) Job creation; 2) Income gap; 3) Population growth (it's a negative number). Successful?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:31...I don't think either of those issues are NIMBY otherwise all voting and all legislation is NIMBY. If thinking 9 students crammed into an apartment for 4 is a bad thing then yeah NIMBY. This unfettered property rights nonsense is older then the Republic and always has its limits like safety and the rights of neighbors to enjoy their property in peace. The proximity of Larry's house to Hampshire College also makes it not NIMBY. People have a right to protest others opinions and a NIMBY has a right to not want a solar collector near them though they would support it near someone else. One is free speech and the other is free speech with a huge dollop of hypocrisy!

Anonymous said...

Kevin is the average age anywhere around 67? You weren't clear.

Anonymous said...

What's with 65 West St? How many people reside there? Driveway changed to a large parking lot with painted lines and still occupants park on the street overnight.

Google indicates it's 3 condos- How'd they do that?

Anonymous said...

Hi Janet McGowan
All Massachusetts towns have Town Meeting.

Anonymous said...

HTH 3:31..... I love your term "Wanty" Sure are a lot of those around here. Everybody seems to want everything. Perhaps they could benefit from some good old delayed gratification. "What's that?" they whine.

Anonymous said...

Aren't some of those NIMBYs the same ones that vote for all the "Give Away" programs for all the unfortunates? I would think they would delight in having lots of the "low income" population as their neighbors.

Isn't it just amazing how things can end up "biting one in the butt?"

Anonymous said...

In the 90s and 2000s we were focused many towns over on keeping up property values....ironic that from the kids' perspectives, this is unaffordable housing...and it is the kids of the parents that wanted higher values that cannot afford. It is like a cruel joke on your own sad. Now we raise the value of education to the point where no one wants to buy the value. God bless automation.

Anonymous said...

Alisa is becoming an autocrat - she's in her 4th term on the SB and needs to distance herself from the Town Government.