Diversity in Holyoke

2014/10/01 in Absurd, History, Holyoke, pronography

Not diverse enough?

“Paint a couple of fucking shamrocks on the thing and shut the fuck up!”

Racism and Censorship in Holyoke

2014/09/27 in Absurd, Art, Gentrification, Holyoke, Mailbag, Press Release, Racism, Shame

I received this email from David Flores about his art and his experiences with racism and censorship in Holyoke.

(David Flores at work on the piece in question)

Printed in it’s entirety:

On Saturday, September 19, 2014, my mural celebrating the Puerto Rican diaspora in Holyoke, MA was scheduled for installation as part of a set of pieces created in conjunction with the Holyoke Alleyway Revitalization Project. Before the piece could go up, the owner of the building on which it was to be installed decided that it could not be displayed on her property. She said that my piece would do more harm than good to Holyoke’s Hispanic community, and that in order to display it I would have to change it to make it “more diverse.” The mural consists of an 8’ x 16’ Puerto Rican license plate with HOLYOKE written across the center. Whereas many Boricuas throughout Holyoke proudly display similar license plates that point to their hometowns on the island, my project intended to claim that Holyoke is part of Puerto Rico. Holyoke is the community with the highest percentage of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. (44.70%), yet Puerto Ricans are deeply marginalized in almost every aspect of the city. Although the building owner had approved of my design and seen the finished project well in advance of the scheduled installation, she caved to pressure from nearby business owners and others who seek to prohibit public displays of Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke. Thus, the decision to exclude my mural from this public art exhibit is emblematic of the wider suppression of Puerto Ricans and Puerto Ricanness throughout Holyoke. With my mural, I hoped to contribute to efforts toward claiming public space in solidarity with Holyoke’s Puerto Rican community. However, this building owner’s decision and logic amount to the race-based exclusion of Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke at best and the censorship of Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke at worst. While the Holyoke Alleyway Revitalization Project has supported my mural, the decision to collaborate with a bigoted building owner on this project reflects the fundamental problems with this “revitalization” initiative. In fact, like other “revitalization” efforts in Puerto Rican neighborhoods and communities of color throughout the U.S., such projects end up participating in processes of gentrification despite their organizers’ best intentions.

As a Mexican artist born and raised in Chicago, I have been deeply inspired by Chicago’s Puerto Rican movement, particularly the strong Puerto Rican leadership in schools, community organizations, elected positions, and artistic initiatives. This community also taught me the value of Mexican-Puerto Rican solidarity, as expressed through joint efforts to combat educational inequality, gentrification, and (im)migrant stigmatization. This solidarity is most clearly represented in a chant that is often used in Latin@ political demonstrations in Chicago: “!Boricua y Méxicano, Luchando Mano a Mano!” This solidarity represents a form of diversity that exceeds the imagination of the building owner who prohibited my mural. I hope that this piece finds a prominent home and that it helps to celebrate Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke. I am also working with community members to combat the suppression of Puerto Ricans and make sure that this does not happen again. In addition to these efforts, I am seeking to collaborate with longstanding community residents to create site-specific public art in Holyoke through a fundraising effort I have named “!Más Color, Más Poder!” I also plan to adapt my Puerto Rican license plate project in other U.S. cities with large Puerto Rican populations. By affirming Puerto Ricanness in Holyoke, I hope to contribute toward the creation of communities that embrace and uplift marginalized populations throughout the U.S.

Bio:
David Flores is an Artist, Designer, and Community Activist who focuses on Latin@ placemaking through art and design. He has worked creatively with non-profits and community based initiatives in Chicago, IL and Holyoke, MA for over a decade. A native of the south side of Chicago, his work challenges the fears and anxieties that are associated with low-income communities of color by emphasizing their value, beauty, knowledge, and resilience.

Tomorrow’s Primary

2014/09/08 in Alex Morse, Casino, Democrats, DNC, Elections, Politics, Vega

As a registered Independent and being anti-DNC/RNC duopoly I will still be voting on the DNC ballot tomorrow because of a few important issues, lack of alternatives and to vote against two candidates.

Issues that I found important this election are anti-casino, increased arts & cultural funding, reducing charter schools, ending the school to prison pipeline, pro-immigration, opposition to the Kinder Morgan gas pipeline, and a desire for drug policy reform.  Where I found candidates that were similar I chose based on experience and diversity.

My choices for tomorrow:

US Senate: EDWARD J. MARKEY or leave blank – unopposed
Governor: DONALD M. BERWICK
Lt Governor: MICHAEL E. LAKE
Attorney General: MAURA HEALEY
Sec of State: WILLIAM FRANCIS GALVIN – unopposed
Treasurer: DEBORAH B. GOLDBERG
Auditor: SUZANNE M. BUMP – unopposed   
US Rep: Write-in anyone but Neal – unopposed
Gov Council: Write-in anyone but Albano – unopposed
State Senate: CHRISTOPHER J. HOPEWELL
State Rep: AARON VEGA – unopposed
D.A.: BRETT J. VOTTERO
Register of Probate: GALE D. CANDARAS – unopposed


As far as who to vote against, Shawn Allyn:  He represents “Old Holyoke” at its worst.  His first job out of law school was into the city law offices due to his Whelihan family connections and since leaving that office with his now ex-wife (Lisa Ball, city solicitor under Mayor Pluta) he’s made a cottage industry out of suing the city of Holyoke.  I am a bit surprised by some of the support I have seen thrown his way, particularly in letters sent to many registered D in the city, beyond the cronyism and the lawsuits he just simply does not have the pedigree to be a DA.  Anyone but him, but Vottero is a great choice for this spot.

Martha Coakley: Well, her casino position is indeed problematic and initially rejecting the ballot question is an affront to the democratic process. She also has proven herself to be “tough on crime” – from proposing a bill that would expand warrant-less wiretapping; to her commentary on the Aaron Schwartz case; to when just starting out as Middlesex County’s DA in 1999 pursuing the Amirault family long after every sane person realized that it was a witch-hunt. If you thought that George Bush was a decent president then maybe she’s for you. I’d love to see a woman hold the reigns in Boston, but certainly not her.

Donald Wilcox Sues City of Holyoke and Geriatric Authority of Holyoke

2014/05/19 in Absurd, Alex Morse, GAH, Lawsuit, Mailbag, MGL, Patti Devine, Whistleblower

An anonymous email sent to me included photographs of documents outlining a lawsuit by recently terminated Donald Wilcox – former COO, CFO and executive director of the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke – against the City of Holyoke and the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke with allegations of discrimination and harassment by Patricia Devine, and that his termination was retribution against him for his whistle blowing to state agencies of ongoing impropriety at the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke.  Devine, then chairwoman of the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke board of directors resigning soon after this debacle because she “could no longer give the time and personal effort that the important position deserves”.  Well, for those that have been paying attention it does appear that she has newly found capacity because, while it is not officially announced, we are hearing folks congratulate her on her appointment to the Fire Commission.  What kind of damage can she do there?

.Here are the documents in full, sorry about the quality, these are photos by a still camera, not a scanner, enjoy:

Donald_Wilcox_v_GAH.pdf

7 pages, 4.1MB

Dean Tech Principal Livin’ la Vida Loca

2014/04/14 in Absurd, Classism, Dean Tech, HPS, Mailbag, Politics

Dean high school principal Bradley Barry Bacom is seeking reimbursement for meal expenses while traveling… Meal includes alligator, oysters, and alcoholic beverages. He is not seeking reimbursement on alcohol but as a role model for 300+ students at dean should consider getting separate receipts for alcoholic beverages.  Should we be paying for this?  Or should he pay up given the large salary received while kids fund raise selling candy from a catalog to pay for activities and parents are being asked to bring in supplies like paper because it is running out?  You be the judge:

Even more here beginning page 55…  $32.00 for one 8oz steak?  WTF?  It is called “poverty pimping”.  A form of disaster capitalism.  The state brings in a private company to run the (destined to) failing school only to suck resources out of the tax coffer that could be put to better use locally.

Meanwhile Sodexo school lunch is super delish…

Big Brother in Holyoke

2014/03/21 in Alex Morse, Anarchism, Civil Rights, Eschatology, Fear, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, HPD, Police, Shame

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  The martial law lock-down and door to door searches in Boston after the Marathon bombing were just the beginning.  Massachusetts is no exception to the mission creep of the absurd “war on terror” that has resulted in a growing surveillance state and increased militarization of our law enforcement.  Now we have the Massachusetts State Police installing 80 surveillance cameras in Holyoke almost overnight without any community oversight or public meetings on the subject.

Please contact your state elected officialsthe mayor; city council; and the ACLU to address your concerns about this invasion.  And always remember:  If you see something, say something…  then smash it to pieces.

 

Holyoke Food Coop

2014/03/13 in Activism, BYOR, Classism, Economics, Gentrification, Poverty, Socialism

There is a discussion happening in Holyoke about building membership to form a food coop. The first meeting was on March 1st and was hosted by BYOR and Gateway City Arts.  The meeting was facilitated by Cynthia Marie Espinosa Marrero (social justice advocate and Holyoke resident), David Gowler (of River Valley Coop and Holyoke resident) and David Russell (of Franklin County Community Coop).  To join in on the discussion and to keep updated please see the Holyoke Food Coop Facebook Group.  If you are not a Facebook user and would like to join the email list instead, please contact me via the “contact us” link below and I will connect you.  The next meeting will be April 6th 1pm to 3pm, location TBD, most likely at El Mercado on Main St.

The initial meeting was somewhat intimate and after the fact there was much dialog (in email and on Facebook) from folks not present at the meeting talking about coops in general, their impact on a community in terms of gentrification, questioning if a coop in Holyoke would serve the Latino community and if it does would it compete with bodegas, would it be affordable, etc, etc.  Well, for myself, knowing the key organizers here, all I can say is that I have an expectation that this will be done with social equity as the first priority and we hope that with outreach we can energize the Latino community and build a representative membership.  Primarily the conversation at the meeting was about a food desert and the needs of low income consumers.  Yes, certainly, we witnessed some commentary that came from “urban pioneer” hipster-gentrifier types with a defeating tone suggesting that it is impossible to be inexpensive AND good – or – that they would not want to be involved in a coop that was food equitable with the majority population of downtown Holyoke because it would likely not serve their upscale needs.  Well, I do hope that we can dispel those notions because a coop is its membership and anything can be made real if people want it.  Nothing is impossible. Also, Holyoke is 48% Latino and 31% below poverty.   We have a priority to serve the community that is in need first and foremost and whatever we build it should be representative of the community at large.  A coop for rich and middle class white folks will not succeed in Holyoke, nor is it desired.

All that said, a few years ago ADP (Alliance to Develop Power) came here and began a similar conversation.  ADP’s mission as I understand it was to build economic opportunity and business ownership as a catalyst for improving impoverished areas.  Their plan was to use the coop model as a way to build a business except that they’d initially finance it rather than via a membership drive.  Then once it was self sustaining they would release management and give it to the membership and the community.  It is an interesting idea.  They had done similar in other communities with housing and daycare but targeted Holyoke with a bodega-coop plan.  For those that are not aware ADP seems to no longer exist.  I understand that some sort of malfeasance by management had the non-profit collapse like a house of cards; which is really too bad as they had won national grants from Huffington Post and had a long track record of success.  Thankfully some of their work here is not lost.  Linked below are a number of documents and research for the Holyoke plan:

ADP Bodega Holyoke Impact Statement

Funding and Social Equity Across the Food System Supply Chain

Good Food and Good Jobs for All

ADP Bodega Executive Summary

LPV Oasis Report Formatted

 

 

 

The Future of Holyoke Schools

2014/02/22 in Activism, Economics, Education, Holyoke, HPS, School Committee, Youth

The Holyoke Public School District has been in the news quite a bit lately: data walls, high-stakes testing, Level 5 status, dropout rates.  A lot of questions are left unanswered however.  And the controversy over data walls seems to be just the tip of the iceberg.  Where does all of the data for the data walls come from?  Currently, students in Holyoke lose about 20 school days per year due to varying forms of data collection.

The district has contracted with the Achievement Network to administer the ANet tests in Math and English.  There are up to four tests per year for English Language Arts (ELA) and up to four tests per year for Math.  The testing takes place in grades 2 thru 8 and requires about 3 ½ hours to administer schoolwide.  While the idea of creating tests aligned to the standards that are being taught in schools is a good one, it is unclear why such tests must cut in to the instructional time that is so valuable to the staff.  Currently, the tests are given on paper, each student getting their own printed packet.  Teachers helping to organize these testing days are out of the classroom for days before, during, and after the administration of the test.  What is the cost to the district to complete all of this testing in its eight K-8 schools?  How many instructional hours are lost throughout the year?  How much does the district pay Achievement Network?  How much paper do these tests require throughout the year?  What is the cost of placing substitute teachers in classrooms to cover for teachers that are organizing these testing days?

Another source of data is the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test created by the Northwest Evaluation Association or NWEA.  These tests are administered twice a year for ELA and twice a year for Math.  These tests are administered on the computer to students in grades 3 thru 8.  The time required varies for each student, with testing lasting up to two hours for some students.  During this testing window, there may be no computer labs available for the general population to use in any of their classes and additional instructional time is lost.  What does the district pay to contract with NWEA to give these tests?  How many instructional hours are lost for this test?

But wait, we’re not done yet.  Students are also given the Benchmark Assessment System in grades K thru 8.  This is a test of reading fluency and reading ability that requires the English teacher or another educator to spend approximately half an hour with each student individually assessing their reading ability.  Some teachers may have as many as 120 students that need to “benchmark” twice a year.  How many instructional hours does that add up to if there are over 3,600 students in grades K thru 8 in the Holyoke Schools? Currently, most students are given the BAS only two or three times per year, but the Holyoke Early Literacy Initiative (HELI) is now suggesting as part of its literacy plan that students in grades K-3 be given the BAS at least once per month (see page 53)!  How much money did the district spend on the kits that are used to assess student reading ability?

Most people in the state are aware by now of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).  This is another set of tests given to students in grades 3 thru 8, as well as grade 10 for Math and ELA.  In addition, 5th, 8th, and 10th graders take a Science MCAS test, and students in grades 4, 7, and 10 take a Long Composition test.  Again, the big question is how many instructional hours are lost due to the testing windows, set forth by the state, for these tests?  How much money does the state spend every year on the testing materials, including the plastic rulers and Reference Sheets for the tests?  How much money is spent on grading the Open Response questions statewide?  What are the costs incurred to ship all of these “sensitive” materials to and from the schools?

Recently, Massachusetts also adopted the ACCESS test for English Language Learners (ELLs).  This test is administered only once a year, but in districts with large populations of ELL students, the testing can be very disruptive to the regular school day.  Parts of the test must be administered individually, and students are often taken out of their regular classes to take these tests.  In addition, the ELLs may not receive the instructional support from their ELL instructors that they would normally receive during the “testing window.”  If students are pulled from their regular classes, who is responsible for filling in the gaps of material they may have missed?

Lastly, every district in the state must now create District Determined Measures, or DDMs, in each subject area and grade level.  For districts receiving Race to the Top money, such as Holyoke, all DDMs that are planned to be used the following school year must be submitted to the state by this June.  DDMs can be as simple as pre and post tests for units or as complex as student portfolios.  While the DDMs should not significantly impact instructional time, they are yet one more assessment tool that students must endure.  It is not yet clear if these DDMs will eventually replace all of the other assessments (besides MCAS).

This amazing amount of data collection seems only to result in frustration on the part of students and teachers.  How much money could Holyoke use to improve its facilities, increase access to technology for students and teachers, and fill vacancies with qualified individuals if all of the money spent on data collection was saved?  How many more enriching activities could students experience, like field trips, if the money were being funneled into these so-called not-for-profit corporations?  As it stands now, more than 10% of the school year in our city is devoted to testing, testing, testing.  Don’t our students deserve better?

One product of all of the low test scores of our students is an overemphasis on English Language Arts and Math.  The logic stands that if students are not performing up to their expected grade level, they must need more time devoted to ELA and Math, right?  Unfortunately, we are sending a clear, albeit subconscious, message to our youth that Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Physical Education, and play are not as important as ELA and Math.  If these other subjects were as important as ELA and Math, we would spend more time teaching those subjects and we’d certainly spend more time testing you in these subjects!  Currently, students in the K-8 schools in Holyoke receive at least 90 minutes per day of instruction in both ELA and Math.  In contrast, they receive just 45 minutes per day in both Science and Social Studies.  In some schools, students receive 90 minute blocks of Science and Social Studies every other day.  In other schools, students have Science for 90 minutes per day for half of the year and Social Studies 90 minutes per day for the other half of the year.  Not only is this not fair to the students at the K-8 grade levels, it is inconsistent with the scheduling at the high school levels.  Students in grades 9 thru 12 have classes that last about 50 minutes each.  Are we truly preparing our students for high school with such a large emphasis on ELA and Math?  Have the scores students achieve increased since the district implemented the longer ELA and Math blocks?

Where does all of this testing and overemphasis on Math and English lead us?  It seems to have earned the district Level 5 status for Dean Technical and Morgan Schools.  It also seems to have earned us a dropout rate much higher than the state average.  (2.2% statewide, 26.8% in Holyoke, according to Rep. Aaron Vega at the 2/3/14 School Committee Meeting, and statistics found HERE).  This should not be so surprising to the public; what do the students have to look forward to?  All of the creative classes have been taken away and been replaced with additional testing and test preparation.

What does the district do now?  Can we become a voice of leadership in battling the increasing pile of tests?  Can we urge our School Committee to take some of the money in the budget to provide the things that educators, parents, and students want and need to be successful?  Can we work to prevent more schools from entering state receivership?  Should we as parents join together and boycott these tests?

Why do we tolerate this when in other countries they have greater success with fewer resources and less standardized testing?  Take Finland as a perfect example.  Speaking to tolerance, why do we sit idle as the system continually gets worse when in Spain there are strikes and parents marching in the streets when cuts threaten to raise class size from an average of 21 students!

There there is Common Core – embraced by liberals, called a socialist agenda (see paragraph titled “The Real Agenda”) by conservatives and a corporate takeover of education by leftists.  It most certainly is the latter.  To quote Chris Hedges ~  ”…the federal government spends some $600 billion a year on education – and the corporations want it. That’s what’s happening.”  I find it absurd that the conservatives are blasting Obama on this claiming that it is “socialist” when clearly the push in this country by both major parties is to privatize everything – healthcare has been via ACA; social security has had several attempts made; national security is now big enough to be its own branch of government with thousands of private contractors running the show: for-profit prisons in a “free” country that locks away a greater numbers of people both in number and by per capita than any nation in history; military/defense by ending conflicts like Iraq only to replace troops with tax financed private security forces; and now a mission to destroy public school with more charter schools and these numerous testing initiatives.  The public trust continues to be chipped away for the benefit of capital.   Of course we should be upset and act on all of these attacks, but when our children are on the front lines we must fight tooth an nail – so where is the outrage?  Why is it mostly only the teachers that we hear speaking out?

Additional factoids:

In 2006, the dropout rate in Holyoke was 35%; in 2007, it was 27.7%; in 2008, it was 32.9%; in 2009, it was 34.3%; 2010: 28.4%; 2011: 26.9%; 2012: 25%; 2013: 26.8%

Since the beginning of Feb., 53 “anticipated openings” for teachers for the next school year have been posted on the district’s website.  Many of those positions need to be filled now, as teachers have retired mid-year.

 

Ward 4 Watch List – See Click Fix

2014/02/03 in DPW, HFD, Holyoke, Ward 4

SeeClickFix is turning out to be a powerful tool.

 

Congratulations Holyoke!

2013/11/05 in Alex Morse, Announce, Elections, Holyoke, Stanek

Sanity Prevails, Alex Morse Wins Reelection!

Nice work Holyoke voters, you made the right choice.

Oh, and Jeff Stanek…  this is for you:

HUSH Voters Guide 2013

2013/11/03 in Alex Morse, Bresnahan, Casino, Elections, H.U.S.H., Lisi, Mailbag, Mayor, McGee, Walmart

“The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

ON QUESTION #2: Vote YES for NEP.  There’s a strong vibration of anti-reason and anti-science in American politics.  Holyoke is certainly no exception.  So, I’d like to discuss the needle exchange first, because that is the most utterly confusing thing on this ballot (well, except for maybe Dan Bresnahan and Brenna McGee as candidates).  I am not a doctor, though I did have aspirations to be one and was at one point seeking enrollment in a PA program on reenlistment into the US ARMY some years ago – which never happened due to a mountaineering accident.  At that time I was a Microbiology and Chemistry student and in that combination of disciplines was focusing on the biochemistry of immunology – I did go on to work in healthcare both in a laboratory and in a NICU but that was a long time ago.  Now, I am no expert, and I will be the first to admit that…  However, from what I do know; the best way to slow down the spread of a disease is to disrupt the vector of a pathogen. It really is pretty fundamental:  Spread by aerosol?  Wear a mask.  Spread by drinking water?   Treat / filter the water.  Spread by direct contact?  Wash hands / use condoms.  etc, etc.   Dirty needles spread disease and removing dirty needles from the equation greatly limits the spread of related communicable diseases.  I also believe in leaving some things up to the experts and leaving some other things up to the democratic process.  The needle exchange is not something that should be “decided upon”.  It simply makes sense and should be established so leave it up to health experts and not some democratic process… What does boggle my mind is folks like Linda Vacon, a registered nurse that supposedly knows and cares about healthcare, and others who claim to “be good with numbers” oppose this program or say the ills of the program outweigh any benefits.  The benefit is that is saves lives.  The possibility to save one life makes the program invaluable.  Opposition can only come from absolute ignorance or, more likely, a desire to have “those people” die because they are less than human.  It also reminds us of those tin-foil hat wearing Alex Jones fans that think that vaccines are a some sort of government conspiracy eugenics program or, equally so, that climate change is a leftist conspiracy.  It is all part of the general dumbing down of America where people are more likely to be motivated by fear than they are by the truth. For those that might want to read more on the realities of NEP please see this document from Drug Policy Alliance or this link from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Also, this well done video staring my girls has a great message (while strongly appeal to emotion it is the truth) that comes from A Clean Holyoke / Tapestry Health:


ON QUESTION #1: Vote NO Casino in Holyoke.  I am opposed to the Holyoke casino idea – for a number of reasons – probably #1 was the site plan right along the Metacomet and Manadnock trail and pristine Mt Tom Reservation.  I am not not a fan of casinos but I am not opposed to gambling or casinos in general; however I think they are not the right fit for Western Mass and see the over-saturation of gambling in New England making this whole plan a failure.  Keep the ones we have and build no more.  Let Vegas be the destination that it is.  …and vote out of office every legislator that made this bill into law.  Then repeal the legislation before groundbreaking happens. This non-binding question seems like a waste of time by everyone involved, mostly because the timeline is moving, Springfield and Palmer are potential sites – Springfield passed the referendum with Palmer deciding on Nov 5th.  For Holyoke to be a possibility the entire Gaming Commission timeline would need to be set back to zero if for some reason that Palmer failed the vote and Springfield was denied by the commission.  Also, seeing that there is so much already invested I see the plan going full steam ahead in Springfield if Palmer fails because, they want that casino and with a new governor incoming and an actual bill in the works to stop the casino plan they want groundbreaking before any traction is made in repealing the law.

The question, the casino timeline and the politics here in Holyoke makes interesting the publishing of a mailer that lists an anti-casino candidate voting slate with a number of glaring omissions of would-be casino opponents.  An anonymous group called Citizens For a Better Holyoke which claims to be a “factually oriented group that works together with community members from all over Holyoke” that is “dedicated to providing the public with information”.  Well, I disagree.  Repeated attempts to find out who meets and decides on what is communicated was met with silence.  A few folks admit to being part of the group but on the literature, nothing… and the Facebook page there is no “About Us” that defines who was behind the mailer.  Not responding to queries is NOT working with the community and not providing a complete list of anti-casino candidates fails to educate and only exposes either the political bias of the organization or its failure to be able to live up to its mission statement.  HUSH was contacted by a few candidates that felt like the mailer misrepresented them.

Rick Purcell, previous Green Party Candidate for Lt Governor with Jill Stein and Ward 3 Holyoke candidate now running at large has maintained a solid anti-casino stance since well before CFBH formed and before legislation was passed.  His omission from the list is indeed strange because his position is very well known.  Rick claims he was not contacted for this mailer and that John Epstein, one of CFBH members, was hostile towards him 2 years ago.  I don’t know what to say here except that I am not sure why not each and every candidate was contacted about Q1 and inclusion on the mailer.  Yes, CFBH did revise a pdf to include Purcell but this is after the mailer was sent.  It may actually help Purcell to be excluded because of the scrutiny over the mailer.

Kevin Jourdain cried a river over not being included in a long press release published on his FB page and Masslive / Republican Newspaper.   He writes:  “I actively opposed the casino at the 1995 and 2002 ballot questions. A casino proposal has only once come before the Council in my tenure and that was during the 2010-2011 term. As Chair of the Redevelopment Committee at the time, I led the charge to oppose the Wyckoff casino and stopped the two proposals on the project both for a land transfer they needed of 5 acres of city property, as well as, for the city to forgo its right of first refusal on other areas inside Wyckoff. Not talk but votes on the issue. When others were looking to rush things through, who did casino opponents turn to? Kevin Jourdain.”  He is correct.  I saw some of this in City Council meetings.  In an email to me Kevin Jourdain said: “I got dumped because I voted on allowing the non binding question on ballot not because I am pro casino. It is not fair. I always allow those questions on fill in the blank topic. That has nothing to do with casinos.”  I am somewhatin agreement here.  Similarly, I almost always will sign papers for someone running for office.  I may not actually vote, but everyone deserves a chance.  Well, I do believe that I might take exception at some point.  I might not sign papers for a total bat-shit loon Tea Party member like Linda Vacon.  Similarly I might see a question like this one as a waste of time and resources.  Indeed, Kevin has been anti casino and his support of the ballot question is not indicative of a pro-casino stance.

Yassir Menwer forwarded me his email from John Epstein, which is interesting because it is very elusive.  Looks like a private citizen from Ward 7 contacting a Ward 5 candidate with a simple question and not representing an organization:

Hi Yasser,
    Dozens of people who are strongly opposed to a Holyoke casino have been coming up and asking me “who should I vote for” in the upcoming election?  And naturally I want to know, myself.
    For the record, would you please tell me if you are in favor of, or opposed to, a casino in Holyoke.
    Thanks,
    John

Whoa.  That’s good stuff.

Yassir provides a detailed response where he states that he believes that the casino is a bad idea, but if it were to happen that he would work to make it the best possible plan for the city.

In a reply:

Hello Yasser,
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply.
    Before I finalize what I’m doing, I wanted to make sure I was representing your position properly.  So rather than me trying to project my own interpretation upon your response to me, I’ve decided it would be best to provide you with a choice of several categories from which you can describe how you feel.
    Which of the following would you say most accurately describes your position on a casino in Holyoke:
    Pro-casino
    Leaning pro-casino (appears promising)
    Neutral
    Leaning anti-casino (serious reservations)
    Anti-casino
    Thanks for your patience!
    Best,
    John

 

Yassir responds “Leaning anti casino”.  Granted, I like my candidates to say exactly what they believe, but like Rick claims he experienced similar here two years ago…  who / what / why?  I think some might have reservations being subject to such a cold calling.  Instead, if there was full disclosure “we are Citizens For  A Better Holyoke, an anti-casino group and we want to know your position on such and such” you might get full disclosure and less CYA.

Anyhow.  CFBH needs a new ringmaster.

Mayors Race: Alex Morse.  As many know, I have butted heads with Alex on a number of occasions on some key issues.  He’s also landed in the right place each time.  I have also had the opportunity to work with Alex on the cable advisory board, where I see a great opportunity unfolding for Holyoke with a new media center in the works and the possibility of utilization of a neglected downtown property funded by Comcast.  Before the field of candidates unfolded I actually was not sure if I would have a horse in this race and when Jeff Stanek appeared I thought there might be some serious competition when Stanek started attending the anti-Walmart meetings.  But as more was revealed it began to appear that Stanek was not only not my candidate but quite possible the absolute worst case scenario with his history of corruption, bad business dealings and some very interesting campaign financial support.  Not to mention failure to attend two debates and absolutely horrible presentation in those where they did face off.  As well, some very illuminating discussions that are borderline racial profiling like NYC’s Stop and Frisk policies…  Stanek wants police checkpoints?  What, is he from North Korea?  The choice is very clear.  Alex is moving Holyoke forward and Stanek represents quite the opposite.

The rest of the races have some interesting fresh faces and motivated people stepping up to lead the city.  Mark Riffenburg, Mimi Panitch, Jim Chevalier (in a write-in sticker campaign), Rosalee Tensley Williams, Jossie Valentin and Christine Alger are new to political scene and offer a lot to our great city.

I’d like to go on at great length about all these choices and may return to edit more.  But for now, here is the HUSH endorsements…  and remember, anyone BUT Dan Bresnahan if you see the need to fill out more bubbles on the at-large section:

Mayor:
Alex Morse

City Clerk:
Louise K. Bisson

City Treasurer:
Jon Lumbra

City Council At Large:
Rebecca Lisi
Richard Purcell
Mark Riffenburg
Mimi Panitch
Kevin Jourdain
Peter Tallman

Ward 1 City Council:
Gladys Lebron-Martinez

Ward 2 City Council:
Anthony Soto

Ward 3 City Council:
David Bartley

Ward 4 City Council:
Jossie M. Valentin

Ward 5 City Council:
Yasser Menwer

Ward 6 City Council:
Jim Chevalier

Ward 7 City Council:
Gordon P. Alexander

School Committee at large:
Devin M. Sheehan

School Committee Ward 1:
Mildred I. Lefebvre

School Committee Ward 2:
Rosalee Tensley Williams

School Committee Ward 3:
Dennis W. Birks

School Committee Ward 4:
Christine Alger

School Committee Ward 5:
Kellie M. Pond

School Committee Ward 6:
Joshua Garcia

School Committee Ward 7:
Erin B. Brunelle

State Senate:
David Bartley

Question 1 “Should the city of Holyoke have a resort style gaming casino?”:
No

Question 2 “Should the city of Holyoke have a needle exchange program?”:
Yes

 

 

More Folks Publishing Dirt on Jeff Stanek

2013/10/24 in Alex Morse, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Politics, Stanek

This video is not mine.  Rest assured, if it were it would have had a flaccid penis instead of the down market arrow.
Anyhow, kudos…  very nice work and +1 for the music!  

 

Also, Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight has this illuminating piece published today.

Hopefully we will see a lot more of this.  Folks need to learn about this crook carpetbagger that wants to be our mayor.

A Modest Proposal: Holyoke needs prime-rate housing for rich white entitled hipsters.

2013/10/20 in Absurd, Capitalism, Classism, Eschatology, H.U.S.H., Mailbag, Poverty, Racism

HUSH welcomes this guest op-ed from Holyoke resident Charles Montgomery Burns III.

Nationwide, there is a tremendous untapped market for upper class, prime-rate housing in vibrant, walkable urban areas where one might expect to find such luxuries as artisan chocolate vendors, martini bars, dog grooming salons, fashion milliners and Asian-Mexican fusion restaurants.

So far, Holyoke has been unsuccessful at turning this market to its advantage. Instead, it has watched a valuable asset stagnate into a bleak cityscape of brown-skinned poor people, in effect prioritizing social services over a more white privately-led economy for the benefit of rich white hipsters.

I suggest that we kill and eat the poor. All of them. Rub their skins with oils and savory herbs then roast them on an open fire.  And any new poor that arrive – kill them and eat them before they can reproduce. After that their housing will become available for private interests as the poor will instead occupy our collective gullet or fear entering this city else suffer the same fate. Only then can this city thrive and private interests reign over the welfare of those that do not have and do not deserve.

Release the hounds!

 

Dan Bresnahan: The Most Interesting Man-Child in Holyoke

2013/10/04 in Bresnahan, Elections, H.U.S.H., McGee, pronography, Sexism, Shame

man-child

The most interesting man-child in Holyoke.

Please play the theme music while admiring this image:

ABC 40 WGGB coverage.

Misogyny and Loathing in Holyoke

2013/10/02 in Absurd, Audio, Boob Tube, Bresnahan, Council, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, McGee, Sexism, Shame

douchenozzles

Breezy-D and Mr McGee - Holyoke's version of Beevis and Butthead

The microphones were on before the City Council meeting began and those of us with cable TV (or DVR) were able to witness a very interesting conversation between Dan Bresnahan and Todd McGee where they made mockery of their post; used profanity; engaged in misogynistic dialog; talked disparagingly of their colleagues; made jokes about their wives and insulted some community members – all of which could be heard in the comfort of your own home via Holyoke’s public access channel 15.  Priceless.  It really goes to show what little intelligence and integrity it takes to qualify as leadership in Holyoke.  So, here it is, posted as audio and transcript:

The audio began mid conversation.  They are talking about the agenda.  Presumably, at start, they are talking about item 24.  ”Petition for a Zone Change for Whiting Farms Rd. from BG to IP”  which brought a number of residents into council chambers for public comment and in support of this item.

McGee: …unless it was for Dan, if Dan wanted to change things.

Brezzy: I wanna put a Walmart there…  (McGee laughs) and a casino.

McGee: Roll the dice baby.

Breezy: …and a strip club.

McGee: [fumbling with papers] Yay! The Directory!

Breezy: A city-wide bicycle master plan?  I like Aaron.  (the Breezy makes an aside) If you smell garlic it is me, there is no doubt about it…  I am just telling you right now.  (back on topic)  A city-wide bicycle master fucking plan? Oh my god.  What’s going on?

(Rebecca Lisi walks into view, she’s 9-months into pregnancy with a due date of TODAY yet she’s still hard at work)

Breezy: That’s gotta be uncomfortable.  The way she’s carrying…

McGee: She’s due today!  Today’s her due date.

Breezy: I still don’t see that glow in her face… unlike most of the pregnant women I am attracted to.  She’s just not doing it for me.  But YOUR wife on the other hand – whoa ho, oh boy…  when she was pregnant!

McGee: I’m not gonna lie to you.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Anyone want a Twizzler?

Brezzy: [unintelligible, presumably speaking to agenda] What’s going on?

McGee: That’s going to committee too.

Breezy: Did I get the wrong agenda? [Is Dan only reading the agenda now, not reviewing it prior to the meeting?]

McGee: Nah, that’s going to committee.  Speaking of which, I better get…  [unintelligible, gets up from his seat]

(not sure who does a mic check, sounds like Gordon Alexander TAP TAP TAP – blows into mic “hey Ryan” TAP “it is not on yet”)

Breezy:  Bickford?

McGee: Yeah.

Breezy: I saw him.

McGee: Look at him.  Ah… Man.  How did MassMutual hire that? What the fuck were they thinking?

Breezy: Just keep an eye on him when we do the Pledge of Allegiance.  He doesn’t fucking…  he sits down. (McGee laughs) I am telling you, he’s a fucking communist.

[audio was shut off with video feed continuing]

Good job boys.  Well done.  Way to make complete fools out of yourselves.  …and oh, FYI: Mr Bickford was hired because he is much smarter and more professional than you two, obviously.

In regards to not saying the pledge as qualification of ‘communist’ – Requiring people to say a prayer to an object is more akin to authoritarianism than is the reluctance or protest to the participating in it. What an idiot.

Download audio here.