Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Preaching to the Choir (especially in Amherst)

State Senator Stan Rosenberg has an uncharacteristic slip up in today’s well placed (break page, above the fold) Gazette article finally getting around to covering the controversy of the 'Vote No on Question One' propaganda night coming up “live” at ACTV studios tomorrow night.

Cut to the close: “This is a very, very serious matter. If people speak, it has some very significant weight.” Rosenberg said. Damn, that's a lot of very's.

So then are you saying Stan, that us lightweight voters should only hear from heavyweights like yourself?

Yeah, yeah we know
As usual, a blog covered it first

Monday, September 29, 2008


My Backyard 10:00 AM

A Mile down the road 3:45 PM

Sunday, September 28, 2008

By any other name...

The question is not what would Amherst be like without Umass but what would Umass be like without Amherst? There’s a move afoot to drop the 01002 location from the Flagship University because it makes Umass sound to provincial.
The Boston Globe reports

Even though Umass is currently the second largest landowner in town (all of it tax exempt).

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in bucolic Amherst over a generation ago I remember my mother—a staunch Irish Catholic –becoming horrified at a family gathering when a relative asked my slightly older sibling, what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“A Redman!” he almost shouted. My mother assumed he was talking about those marauding Indians from a John Wayne movie. But he was referring to Umass basketball; a moniker changed in 1972 to “The Minutemen” which is of course is fine by me.

I also remember hiking from High Street on cold winter Friday nights to sneak into The Cage to watch “The Redmen” at work. The advantage of being a pint-sized 8-year-old is you can insinuate yourself fairly easily into a general admission crowd and sneak by ticket takers.

So I have always lived in the shadow of Umass, even back when it did not cast such an overpowering shadow. I remember when the Southwest was simply a rolling open field where we neighborhood kids would play “capture the flag”.

All relative, I suppose; because back in the 60’s when only a few thousand students attended Umass Amherst townie population was a lot smaller as well. And as the University grew, so did the population of Amherst.

All us blue-collar townie kids wanted to get a job at Umass, many of them—fast approaching retirement age—still work there. I remember the water crisis from 25 years ago, although a tad differently than reported in the press recently. A town employee forgot to prime one of the main pumping stations so when the kids returned there was no water.

And the huge library that was to be a symbol (like the World Trade Center Twin Towers) of a proud flagship. Then the bricks started falling. The Collegian on April Fools Day issued a spoof article saying engineers forgot to calculate the weight of books and now the Library was sinking. The AP picked up the story, and to this day it is an Urban Myth.

Because of the University one cannot help but get involved in current political issues. In the late 60’s and early 70’s it was of course Viet Nam—the Mother of All issues. In the 80’s streaking and disco (politics took a back seat) in the 90’s nothing, and now--sort of--the Iraq War.

Amherst benefits greatly by the presence of the flagship, but suffers financial hardship as well. The University has a police department (with more staff and better funded than the town’s) but no Fire Department thus relying completely on the town’s annual $5 million operation. And of course our Police Department also spends about 25% of its time dealing with students.

About ten years ago Umass removed Amherst from their logo, now they want to go one step further and pretend the town doesn’t exist. Okay, next time somebody on campus calls 911 and requests help the dispatcher should say very slowly “Well what Umass is this: Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, Worcester, or that provincial one out there in the sticks of Amherst?”

Would Umass still smell as sweet without Amherst? Hell no, that stinks!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Freedom of speech: for whom?

UPDATE: 5:15 PM: Naturally the McCormic campaign jumped on this journalistic travesty:

For A Fair and Balanced Panel Discussion on ACTV

The Amherst Bulletin announced yesterday that the Amherst
Community Television station will be hosting a free campaign appearance for the well-heeled state senate incumbent at the expense of his opponent. State Senator Stanley Rosenberg has been invited to be a panelist on a program about Ballot Question 1, to be taped and aired in the run-up to the upcoming election, in which he is facing an opponent, Keith McCormic, who was not invited to appear on the panel. McCormic is considered to be an expert on Ballot Question 1, and will be speaking at a Ballot Question 1 event in Boston on October 4th at Faneuil Hall.

Also, all three panelists are known to oppose Ballot Question 1. For the cable access station to advertise this program as an opportunity for voters to learn about the issues involved is misleading at best, since only one side of the arguments will be presented.

The Bulletin article neglected to mention that the panel discussion is being orchestrated by the League of Women Voters, which, as an organization, is opposed to Ballot Question 1 on the statewide level.

There are two responsible things for ACTV to do: 1) Make the discussion fair and balanced, by inviting speakers (including McCormic) who are in favor of Ballot Question 1; or 2) Bill the event as a slanted panel that will give the arguments against Ballot Question 1. Because if the bias is allowed to go forward unchecked, the impartiality of the station could be called into question. After all, 95.4% of ACTV's revenues come from the Town of Amherst, and most of the rest come from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which Rosenberg has actively increased funding of during his tenure on Beacon Hill.

Original Post 3:30 PM So the Amherst July 4’th Parade Committee endures years of bureaucratic bullying from the Amherst Select Board, Town Manager, the Amherst Democratic Town Committee and the League of Women Voters to allow any-and-all “opinion/protest” into the private celebratory parade, yet the People’s Republic of Amherst now excludes dissenting opinion/speech on Ballot Question One--the one that would significantly reduce the supply of pork to the public trough.

ACTV is the town of Amherst. They receive $250,000 annually from Comcast –a small slice of overall revenues from Amherst subscribers (5%)—and if they went dark tomorrow that money would be diverted to the town’s General Fund. So it is Amherst tax money.

President Reagan killed the FCC “fairness doctrine” in 1985. Ironically that damn Republican opened the door for folks like ACTV to get away this unfair and unbalanced coverage of a major political ballot question.

State Senator Stan Rosenberg is slated to speak at the Panel Discussion with two other opponents of the ballot question. Keith McCormic, his opponent in the state senate election, champions passage of Question 1.

Talk about a stark difference! Yet Mr. McCormick is being denied a seat at the table.

What are they afraid of?

Amherst Bulletin 9/26/08:

Amherst panel talk takes up Question 1

A panel discussion of ballot Question 1, concerning the repeal of the state income tax, will be taped in front of a live audience Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the ACTV studio at 246 College St. The panelists are State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg; Pam Schwartz, Western Massachusetts coordinator for the Coalition of Our Communities; and Tim Sheehan, Fort River Elementary School grade 4 teacher at and President of the Amherst-Pelham Teachers Association.

The program is free and open to the public. Parking is limited and the studio seats 50, so residents are advised to arrive early. For information call 253-0633.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

No, they didn't serve donuts

Amherst PD, with help from Amherst FD and the Sheriff's Department hosted a burgers and dogs cookout (using no town tax dollars) this afternoon for a bevy of local seniors. SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) is one of those things that in the cold Republican business world would be called a "strategic alliance".

For Info click here