Showing posts with label Stan Rosenberg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stan Rosenberg. Show all posts

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Playing Hardball

34,525 sq ft UMass Campus Center hotel competes with private sector hotels in the Valley

In an effort to coerce the town into signing a new multi-year "strategic partnership agreement," aka Payment In Lieu Of Taxes that is long overdue, UMass -- our beloved flagship institute of higher education -- is taking a hard line approach:  withholding payment of a local option room tax everybody else pays, including tax exempt Amherst College.

But in so doing they are most certainly biting the hand that feeds them.  Over the past 30 years there's not been a  bigger legislative cheerleader for UMass/Amherst than Stan Rosenberg, who also just happens to be an Amherst resident.

And currently Stan holds the powerful position of Massachusetts Senate President.

Stan went out of his way back in 2009 to draft legislation specifically to close the loophole that allowed the Campus Center Hotel to dodge our 6% local option tax.

In an email to his staff Stan wrote:

"I want to make sure that we insert language into the bill that effectively says that hotels that are located on college campuses or operated by any other form of nonprofit/education organizations are subject to room occupancy excise. 

This is extremely important as I have been trying to get UMass to the right thing and apply this tax for a very long time voluntarily and they have refused.  This is wrong and I don not want to miss the chance to fix this finally now that we have a chance to do it."

Currently UMass pays the town $455,000 PILOT for AFD ambulance and fire protection.  AFD and 911 Dispatch has a annual budget of $5 million with about 25% of their total runs involving UMass students, so that alone should be well over $1 million in reimbursements.

In addition 56 children living in tax exempt UMass "family housing" attend our public schools, which have a high average cost of education just over $20,000 per student, so that alone should be well over $1 million in reimbursements.

In fact the previous 5 year "strategic partnership agreement" that expired June 30, 2012 specifically stated that if the town closes down Marks Meadow Elementary School the University would come back to the bargaining table and reopen the agreement to consider a cash contribution for educational services. 

Note to UMass:  When you play hardball, sometimes you get beaned in the head.

 UMass is the town's largest employer and #2 landowner behind Amherst College

Thursday, January 22, 2015

But Did You Inhale?

Stan Rosenberg speaking at Kendrick Park last October

Here's yet another reason to love the new state Senate President and actual town "local", having passed the 25 year mark for living in Amherst:  When asked by a Boston radio station if he ever smoked pot State Senator Stan Rosenberg replied, "Did I go to college in the 60s?"

Well ... yes.  Umass actually.  Back when it really was known as "ZooMass".  But not anymore fortunately.
Rosenberg, being the savvy experienced politician, anticipates a referendum question to legalize marijuana for recreational use will be forthcoming in 2016.

After all he's from Amherst, so he remembers the town vote in 2000 where a pot advisory question asking police to "deprioritize" marijuana arrests passed handily1,659 in favor to 981 opposed.

A local election with a much better turnout than most (20.4%) propelled in a large part by students.

With the state-wide referendum process being used to decriminalize up to an ounce of pot back in 2008 and most recently in 2012 legalizing pot for medical uses, it is indeed a safe bet advocates will go for all the marbles in 2016.

So why not be prepared?  Although Governor Baker is opposed to recreational use of pot he supports Rosenberg's formation of the "Special Senate Committee on Marijuana."

Now will somebody please pass the brownies.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Still A Stand Up Guy

Stan Rosenberg, Dave Sullivan, John Olver July 4th Parade Amherst town center 2009

As someone greatly concerned with government transparency at all levels -- especially when it concerns corruption or conflict of interest -- I can honestly say the recent soap opera backstory concerning our favorite State Senator doesn't have me concerned in the least.

At least not yet.

I've known State Senator Stan Rosenberg for 25+ years and have always found him to be the most responsive hard working politician in the state.

When he came out on July 4th, 2009 I called him a stand up guy -- both here on the blog, and in person as he was marching in the July 4th Parade I helped promote.

But even ten years before that, Stan attended as a guest speaker a controversial rally I organized on the Amherst town common decrying the (1999) cancellation of 'West Side Story', to this day one of the all time greatest stains on the reputation of our little college town.

Both he and ACLU Western Massachusetts Director Bill Newman gave a spirited defense of the First Amendment while lamenting the cancellation of the play at Amherst Regional High School.  Stan even tried to find state funds to bring a traveling professional troupe to Amherst to perform the iconic play.

And no matter how controversial the July 4th Parade became over the ten years it stepped off in Amherst (only in Amherst could a July 4th Parade become a heated controversy) he could always be counted on to march.  

So if anyone understands the light of media attention that can shine with blinding speed and luminance, it would be a guy who has had to deal with it for most of his adult life -- one who doesn't duck away from controversial issues.

Thus far he has handled the problem created by his significant other with a textbook response:  admit there's a problem and clearly outline a simple solution.

Erecting a "firewall" between his personal relationship and the duties of a powerful politician about to get more powerful is exactly the right answer.  Sort of like newspapers erecting a solid brick wall between editorial and advertising (or at least they used to back in the day).

Western Massachusetts always seems to fly under the radar with folks at the Boston Statehouse.  Our region will become a much bigger blip with Stan Rosenberg as State Senate President. 

Rest assured Western Massachusetts: we're still in very good hands. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Rightful Place

Amherst Town Flag at Statehouse Hall Of Flags

After three long years of design process Amherst, finally, has an official town flag in the Statehouse Hall of Flags.  Big enough so that it requires three Select Board members, the Town Manager, State Representative Ellen Story and State Senator Stan Rosenberg to hold up.  Salute!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Score 1 For Transparency

Stan Rosenberg on a visit to Pioneer Vally Chinese Immersion Charter School in 2009

So it's hard to believe it has been two years but I notice by today's Sunday Republican "How They Voted" that our state legislature finally got around to fixing their website so that roll call votes can now be posted online rather than only being available by hard copy in a remote State House office. 

Bravo!  (Of course now I have to wonder why it took two years.) 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

John, we knew ye well

Congressman John Olver

So the announcement this afternoon from Amherst resident Congressman John Olver about his retirement at the end of this term is kind of like when a sickly relative passes away after a very long illness: you're still surprised, even though it's hardly unexpected.

And I learned the news from my Facebook buddy--also an Amherst resident--Stan Rosenberg who posted it about an hour ago, thanking the Congressman for his four decades of public service. Of course Stan is now in a slightly weird position because it's a forgone conclusion he will run for the open seat if his redistricting committee does not nuke it first.

If he votes to keep the seat and then runs for it, his opponent (presumably a nasty Republican) will have a field day with that. Even the left leaning Boston Globe mentioned Stan co-owning a Beacon Hill condo with Congressman Olver, and he started out as his legislative aid.

But Stan is the hardest working guy in politics, and if anybody deserves to be a Congressman, he does. Besides, they're both from Amherst.

Friday, September 30, 2011

UMass shows off new Police Station

A boatload of state and local officials sat under the big tent this morning to hear Chancellor Robert Holub sing the praise of the new $12.5 million UMass police station and the men and women who now call it home, as well as the outstanding relationship shared by public safety officials in the town of Amherst and neighboring Hadley.
Chancellor Robert Holub

The new station has its own emergency dispatch center causing UMass to opt out of a regional dispatch Amherst is pursuing. Obviously town officials did not hold any grudges, as Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe and SB members Diana Stein and Alisa Brewer attended as did acting Town Manager Dave Ziomek, Fire Chief Tim Nelson, Assistant Chief Lindsay Stromgren, APD Captain Jennifer Gundersen and other high ranking members of those departments.
Stan Rosenberg, the consummate pro, eschewed the poor quality PA system

UMPD Chief Johnny Whitehead has a lot to smile about

Intersection upgrade makes it easier for UMPD and AFD to get rolling

No, the horse did not speak...or cut the ribbon

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Power of the Web

State Senator Stan Rosenberg, Dave Sullivan (our new DA) and Congressman John Olver march in the Amherst 7/4 Parade.

So I noticed yesterday in the Springfield Sunday Republican "How they Voted" section that Amherst's long-time state senator Stan Rosenberg had voted against a bill (proposed by those miscreant Republicans) that would have mandated roll call votes also be posted on the state website in addition to being available in hardcopy buried deep in the recesses of an office somewhere at the State House in Boston.

Unfortunately "How they voted" doesn't explain why they voted that way. So naturally I took to Stan's Facebook page to ask:

I'm a little surprised, sitting here reading my Sunday Republican ("How they voted"), that you voted No to Rule S-6 requiring Committee roll call votes cast by our duly elected legislators on bills in their committee to be posted on the Legislature's website.

You were an early adopter of the 'Power of the Web' and have this wonderful Facebook page and are extremely accessible via email, so you know well how the Internet has fostered greater interaction between politicians and their constituents.

The average person these days (or I guess above average, since they would actually care about these "inside politics" voting sessions) could not easily make the trip to the Statehouse in Boston--especially in the winter--to view hardcopy available in the offices of said committee.What is wrong with greater transparency and a far superior means of dissemination?

And, true to form (even on a Sunday), I did not take long for a response:

Nice to hear from you as always. I have no problem with the proposal to post roll call votes in Committees. The problem is technical at this point. We are going through a complete changeover of our legislative website and while we are making progress expanding what is on the site we are having growing pains. We have not yet even been able to perfect the site enough to have all of our roll calls from Senate floor actions on the site. That is the plan and it is being worked on but not perfected. I expect we can add roll calls from committee action at some point but we just can't at this point so putting it in the rules will not work until we can actually do it.

Also you should know that probably 90 percent of committee actions are taken by voice vote so when it is finally able to be done there will not be that many bills actually moved by recorded vote. Not a reason to slow it down but just a point of information

Thanks Stan. I knew there was a good reason. And this exchange kind of proves my point about the power of the web and it's usefulness to democracy. Stay warm!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

By any other name

Gotta wonder how Amherst state Senator and Umass bodyguard Stan Rosenberg is going to handle this vote.

The House passed by 126-21 and sent to the Senate a bill allowing six state colleges to change their designation to universities: Bridgewater, Fitchburg, Framingham, Salem, Westfield and Worcester.

Of course, now hard pressed students will be more inclined to shop on price when comparing Umass/Amherst to these former "colleges."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A tale of two Umass buildings

Tilson Farm Steam Plant (also called "Paradis Boiler Plant" located near Orchard Hill)

The new state of the art co-generation plant on Mullins Way
, using low sulphur diesel fuel, natural gas and effluent (gray water) from the Amherst Waste water Plant located nearby produces both heat and electricity.
Original coal fired steam plant built in the late 1940s; slated to be replaced in 1974 by Tilson Farm.

In fact, the old warhorse coal plant was under pressure from the EPA to shut down in the early 1970s so perhaps that urgency pushed Umass officials to become reckless in bringing on-line the new Tilson Farm plant too early.
The coal fired steam plant, continued operation until about two years ago.

View old power plant in a larger map
The difference between the new $138 million Umass co-generation heating/electrical plant on Mullins Way and the old $9 million Tilson Farm steam plant is as stark and simple as a light switch: one switched on and it worked, the other turned on and did not.

The Ward Commission, charged with investigating public building contracts during the 1970s, concluded that the Tilson Farm steam plant fiasco was an all too typical byproduct of the greed and corruption ingrained in the system of awarding state government building contracts. Essentially the foxes had free rein in the henhouse with little to no oversight.

According to an abstract of the Ward Commission published in the Boston Globe (1/3/1981):

"The $9 million steam power plant is a white elephant - now standing idle because the 1.5-mile pipeline designed to carry steam to the campus contains irreparable defects caused by backward operation during startup. After $96,492 paid to contractors produced neither a solution of the problem nor even identification of its cause, workers renovated an old plant at a cost of over $2 million. Meanwhile, attempts to "mothball" the new plant resulted in corrosion of valves and pipes."

The "backward operation" probably seemed like a clever cost saving idea at the time: pulling steam into the plant from the older one located 1.5 miles away to heat it during the first winter of operation.

Attorney General Francis Bellotti eventually won a $970,000 lawsuit against the building designers but by then the $9.3 million steam plant was abandoned. A "Building Condition Report" done by staff at the office of Administration and Finance dated 5/26/09 estimates $5 million in demolition costs for the 19,000 square foot plant, although no such action is imminent.

A recent inside tour shows the derelict four story building to be remarkably well preserved:

Perhaps a lasting legacy of the powerless powerplant is reflected in the shiny exterior of the new co-generation plant built 35 years later. As State Senator Stan Rosenberg, President Pro Tem of the Massachusetts Senate (D-Amherst) points out: state officials had learned a hard, expensive lesson.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I'll see your boycott and raise you...

So my long-time friend Vladimir Morales generated headlines over the past few days requesting the 'People's Republic of Amherst' boycott all things Arizona due to their recent legislation essentially mirroring federal immigration law--except of course for the enforcement part.

Since Vlad has been active over the past ten years trying to get legal immigrants the right to vote in local elections (something I have always supported on the floor of Amherst Town Meeting) it's no big surprise he would jump in to this current international frenzy.

Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe doesn't seem overly enthused about Amherst officially taking this up now as a cause celeb, as they are currently knee deep in annual Town Meeting and running a $60+ million enterprise takes precedence over symbolic meddling.

I was interviewing state Senator Stan Rosenberg this morning on another project and couldn't help but ask him about this recent dust up. Like Princess Stephanie, he does not think the Massachusetts state legislature will take up this crusade anytime soon because at the moment they are busy with issues that directly impact legal Massachusetts citizens.

Springfield Republican Reports

Recent note to Amherst Chamber of Commerce and Select Board from Kenneth Robinson:

"If the voters of Amherst want to elect people like comrade Morales to public office that is, or course, their business.

However, actions have consequences. If the Select Board votes to approve Morales' Boycott Arizona resolution I will implement my own Boycott Amherst policy.

I enjoy dining , upscale and casual, in Amherst. I like shopping local (especially at independent booksellers) and grabbing a coffee at a non-chain coffee house. But, I do not like subsidizing politically correct idiocy.

As a consumer I have plenty of choices where I spend my money. If Amherst wants to pass pointless, symbolic resolutions that I find offensive its businesses will not be receiving any support from me."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Inside baseball (of the Gay variety)

So that disembodied voice you hear responding, “No, I was hoping the Select Board would comment, so I have no comment,” was indeed me. I had emailed the entire Select Board earlier that morning suggesting they make a (brief) public statement in support of Massachusetts State Senator Stan Rosenberg, who ever so casually mentioned in a Daily Hampshire Gazette July 4th column that he was, gasp, gay.

Even earlier that morning, finishing up a bike ride, I ran into (almost literally) former SB Chair Gerry Weiss and pitched the idea face to face. When I got home two minutes later I emailed the entire Select Board.

From a PR perspective I can see Princess Stephanie’s point (play-it-safe, keep silent), as back when she actually worked for a living as a flak in the Detroit car industry (obviously W-A-Y back in the good old days) you let a negative lie low (or is it lay?) and blow over. Don’t address it because it simply feeds the news cycle. But my theory is that Stan’s being gay is not a negative

And today’s crusty Daily Hampshire Gazette editorial demonstrates (better late than never)they agree with me: What Stan did was pretty damn courageous and should be publicly applauded; while what the Amherst Select Board did was pretty damn cowardly.

Of course the little old Gazette is happy Stan Rosenberg did it on their editorial page rather than their competition the BIG city Springfield Republican. Although I couldn’t help note that when the AP picked up the story they did so from the Springfield Republican's article a few days later and not the Gazette.

Today's Gazette editorial:

Worth noting: Sen. Rosenberg's news

We have to admire the courage of convictions, no matter what they are or how they are demonstrated. It is why State Sen. Stan Rosenberg's disclosure that he is gay generated a bit of news, after it appeared as a brief mention in a guest column on this page.

We live in a time when, right or wrong, we want to know about our elected leaders' private lives, as well as their public pronouncements. Rosenberg, 59, the Amherst Democrat, widely known as a hard worker, good listener and a consensus builder, is not one to speak in sound bites. He didn't do that this time either.

His 750-word column published July 4th spoke to the historical reasons Massachusetts is considered in the vanguard when it comes to tolerance, equal rights and social justice. Halfway through, he offered this insight into how his own political views were shaped: "As a foster child growing up as a ward of the state, as a gay man, as a Jew, I understand what it's like to be cast as ¿the other.' "

It made perfect sense that he would include these pieces of information about who he is to explain a belief system he holds dear.

Perhaps to explain why he has never come out as a gay man before, Rosenberg said he doesn't practice "identity politics" - and indeed the fact that he is gay, Jewish, and was a foster child, does not make him a spokesman for the gay community, the Jewish community or adopted people.

It does, however, make him sensitive to their issues. That's not identity politics, that is simply letting all of who you are guide you in the opinions you hold and the decisions you make.

It is also letting the public you serve know you more fully.

Since the column was published, Rosenberg has declined requests for interviews. Since he does not practice identity politics, we suspect he does not want his hard work on policy and legislation to get derailed by this news.

It is his choice to make such a statement and then move on, especially considering that the only reaction to the column and the news from his constituents has been positive. That may well be because Stan Rosenberg has a distinguished political career of 22 years on Beacon Hill. He served in the state House of Representatives from 1987 to 1991; and in the Senate since then. People see him doing the job they elected him for, and that's what counts.

So, bravo, Stan Rosenberg, for making this announcement and doing it in the way that felt right to you. Your constituents are glad to get to know you a little better.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wed, Jul 8, 2009 10:45 am
Subject: A vote of support for you know who.

I hope the Select Board will take a moment at tonight's meeting to remind the general public that the town of Amherst is an "equal opportunity employer" and does not discriminate based on race, creed, color, religion, gender, transgender, sexual persuasion or political affiliation (although the last one I'm not so sure about.)

Larry K

Monday, July 6, 2009

A stand up guy comes out

State Senator Stan Rosenberg, Dave Sullivan (our next DA) and Congressman Olver march in the Amherst July 4 Parade.

UPDATE: 4:00 PM: The Associated Press picked up the story (from the Springfield Republican, not the Gazette.) Yikes!

UPDATE: Tuesday 10:00 AM
The Springfield Republican reports:

I had wondered how my friends at the Springfield Republican were going to handle this story. After all, it is news.

But then, Stan went to their competition the Daily Hampshire Gazette (with a five or ten times smaller readership) with his coming out column, although he also distributed it July 4th morning to a large email listserve as well.

Safe bet the Amherst Bulletin will reprint Stan's column this Thursday, but it will be interesting to see if they assign a reporter to also do a follow up story on the reactions thus far (note to reporters: feel free to quote any of my Anon Nitwits.)

Original Post: Monday morning
So Stan's well-written, well-timed coming out column in the July 4 edition of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reminded me of Michael Jackson's sudden death: initially shocking but after a second or two of reflection, hardly surprising.

And yes, kind of like the courtship/marriage of Anne Awad and Robie Hubley--the Select Board sweethearts--it was one of the worst kept secrets in Amherst.

If the American flag and July 4 represent anything at all it's freedom. Gay marriage, a Massachusetts's milestone, certainly qualifies. Stan Rosenberg has always been a stand up guy. On July 4th he never stood taller.

From: Rosenberg, Stan (SEN)
Sent: Mon, Jul 6, 2009 11:30 am
Subject: RE: Today's July 4 Gazette column
Thanks again both for your email and for coming up to me at the parade. It means a lot to have such a positive response to the column and from a very wide ranging group of people all across my district and beyond. Have a great summer now that he sun has returned!
From: []
Sent: Monday, July 06, 2009 11:35 AM
To: Rosenberg, Stan (SEN)
Subject: Re: Today's July 4 Gazette column
Hey Stan,
You're welcome.

Getting on my bike right now!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The hardest working man in (state) politics

State Senator Stan Rosenberg paid the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School a visit this morning to talk about all things education. Stan is the hardest working politician in the state and if the entire legislature were made up of folks like him we would not be in such a dire condition today.

He had a perfect quote in the Gazette today where he was describing “revenue enhancement” measures for cities and towns and how they could—if implemented--bring in $400 million, which he described as “not a ton of money.”

And at first I thought how could you say that about $400 million? But with state revenues off by $3 BILLION, it’s not too hard to understand.

I first met Stan back in 1991 when I was elected to Amherst Town Meeting with 5 write in votes (mine, my wife and three others). Back then the (usually elderly) constables would bring the locked ballot boxes to Town Hall from all the hinterlands of Amherst and sometimes the last one would not arrive until 9:30 PM or so (polls closed at 8:00) and the results had to be tabulated.

So I’m alone in the Town Clerks office around 9:00 PM waiting for the results of Precinct 7. In walks State Representative Stan Rosenberg. I introduce myself and say “what are you doing here?”. “I’m a political junkie , he replied.

A while later the Springfield Republican reporter who covered Amherst , Mike Plaisance, showed up for the results. He asked me how I felt about winning an election to Amherst Town Meeting? “Now I know how President Reagan felt after Grenada”, I replied tongue in cheek.

After all, the island of Grenada was no match for our military and I had just been elected with 5 votes (mine, my wife’s and three others)

But I was always impressed when everybody else--including the voters--had no interest in a local election (no major contests were on the ballot) our State Representative did. And I’ve watched Stan‘s career closely ever since. And he continues to earn the moniker “hardest working politician in the state.”

Naturally this morning I followed him out to his car and mentioned that Amherst’s share of the 4% local hotel/motel tax was down $40,000 because of the Lord Jeff Inn closing. So even if we raise it to 6% (which would have generated $60,000 last year) it will not help. BUT if the Umass Campus Center Hotel would START paying the tax—even at 4%--it could raise $75,000 or so.

“We’re working on,” Stan replied. And that is a good thing.