You are browsing the archive for 2011 September.

H.U.S.H. officially endorses Bresnahan

2011/09/30 in Activism, Art, Bresnahan, Charter, Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Politics, Press, pronography

 

In the last readers poll it was determined that ground-fowl and readily available medical marijuana are the two most important issues for Holyoke voters in this year’s election.  That is why H.U.S.H. has decided to endorse Daniel Bresnahan.  Bresnahan, an esteemed scientist and dedicated public health employee, was instrumental in the 2010 discovery that chickens are indeed a vector for swine flu.  With help from councilors Aaron Vega and Patti Define the anti-chicken coalition defeated the urban hen ordinance before it even went to committee. Employing the ever-so-convincing appeal to emotion and slippery slope arguments the majority of the council were convinced that we’d see wolves in the streets hunting our children after the chickens were all preyed upon, that ESPN would be covering our cock fight competitions and that data center tech-professionals from cities like Palo Alto, Oakland and Redmond (pro-hen communities) would view Holyoke as akin to a Third World Nation.  Bravo!  It was a huge victory for the healthy and sane Stop & Shop consumers of Holyoke.  With the US economy in shambles it is only necessary that we citizens are not enabled to provide for ourselves as it is only through consumption that corporate agriculture will see profit in these times.

A Musical Interlude

2011/09/28 in H.U.S.H.

I bet you did not know that it was a black band that invented punk?  Of course it was.

 

The Zenger Trial

2011/09/27 in Activism, History, Law, Politics, Press

 

On November 2, 1734, Royal Governor Cosby ordered four issues of Zenger’s Weekly Journal burned. (Courtesy, Library of Congress)

The Trial of John Peter Zenger: An Account

No country values free expression more highly than does the United States, and no case in American history stands as a greater landmark on the road to protection for freedom of the press than the trial of a German immigrant printer named John Peter Zenger.  On August 5, 1735, twelve New York jurors, inspired by the eloquence of the best lawyer of the period, Andrew Hamilton, ignored the instructions of the Governor’s hand-picked judges and returned a verdict of “Not Guilty” on the charge of publishing “seditious libels.”  The Zenger trial is a remarkable story of a divided Colony, the beginnings of a free press, and the stubborn independence of American jurors.

Meet Our Founder

2011/09/27 in Activism, Art, C.R.U.S.H., Council, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Patti Devine, Politics, pronography

Potty Divine

I would like to bring to your attention a story concerning a member of the elected government who has employed bulling and threats of a libel lawsuit in order to suppress speech over a altered image of her that was intended to publicly lampoon this candidate.

Patti Devine is an at-large city councilor up for re-election here in Holyoke.  I have been concerned about her obstructionist and anti-progress motives as a member of our elected government and as my representative on the council.  There were a number of votes and opinions by her that I had issue with:  She cast the sole vote against the Library renovation; opposition to the Responsible Employer Ordinance that would insure that corporations setting up businesses in the city would hire Holyoke residents or provide opportunities for workforce training apprenticeships; opposition to the bottle bill; her general idea that job creation comes from courting big box businesses like Lowe’s or the likes of a casino; and she was the most outspoken opponent to the well thought out chicken ordinance that would have allowed residents to maintain hens in backyard coops.

Speaking directly to the Chicken Ordinance, this was a one year ~50 trial license for citizens that had the space with volunteer inspectors to reduce efforts by the Health Department – basically overturning a racist 1970′s anti-fowl ordinance that was established to isolate the Puerto Rican population.  She tried to shut down discussion of the ordinance before it was even sent to Ordinance Committee, and at a later meeting when proponents to the ordinance came to speak in the council chambers it was Devine that insisted that citizens state whether they owned or rented their homes before being allowed to voice their opinion about the issue.  Essentially, your opinion being valid only if you pay property taxes and marginalizing the voice of the poor in the city.  This year her opposition to this ordinance fight is a large part of her current re-election campaign.

I am a member of CRUSH (Citizens for the Revitalization and Urban Success of Holyoke).  I am a member, not part of the steering committee and not a   spokesperson for CRUSH.  The CRUSH website allows users to create events, make blog posts, organize in groups, maintain personal pages and upload images much like other social networking sites.  Here I posted my image of Patti Devine – an image of her manipulated to make her look like “The Joker” – an image we are all too familiar – and including the text below the image “SLOTH”.  Some have said that she is not a sloth and that my image misrepresents her because she actually works very hard against progress.  Well, that is where I go the idea.  She’s the type that will keep this city from moving forward.  Along with the image of Devine I also posted manipulated photos of the mayoral candidates Dan Boyle and Dan Burns with the intent to lampoon a number of politicos in the city.  I had only got around to the three when the nonsense began.  Ms Devine, upon catching wind of the existence of her image, immediately contacted the media stating her intent to seek legal assistance to remove the image.  “This is no laughing matter” she said (read: “oh, no! people are laughing at me!”).  I was contacted by a member of CRUSH and I was provided a number to contact Mike Plaisance at the Republican newspaper.  I told the CRUSHer that I’d take full responsibility and say that the images were mine alone and not the voice of CRUSH (which claims a non-partisan political statement).  I also made a blog post at CRUSH with a public apology, my statement concerning any discussion of censorship and little FU to some jackasses that were over the top in their ass-kissing of Patti – because, she’s a human, after all.  Censorship was not yet discussed, only hinted at by a person not on the steering committee and what I figured would be the next conversation.  The story was published in the Republican and posted online at Masslive.

The next day the images were gone.  I caught wind of this from a Canadian.  This person is no longer on the steering committee but had heard the decision through the grapevine.  Also, from a number of other people in Holyoke, I was passed an email that they had received from Patti directly or forwarded to them.  The email reads:

From: “mailto:pattidee23@verizon.net”
Date: Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 6:53 AM
Subject: Fwd: RE: CRUSH web site photos
To: (an email list that was abused)

Please read this from below.  It’s a shame that this type of thing is allowed by the group CRUSH (Citizens for the Revitilization and Urban         Success of Holyoke).  We have tried in vain to have these pictures removed without success.  Apparently these disgusting pictures that were posted on their web site (CRUSH of Holyoke), are considered “ART” and will not be removed.  And for this “Pronoblem” person who posted the pictures and wrote about Mayor Pluta below to consider this art is pathetic.

We are asking everyone in our email contacts to go to the site, read the online story of CRUSH (masslive.com – politics – Holyoke) and then forward this to their own contacts.  These pictures were also put on facebook and I understand a complaint has been filed.  Unfortunately CRUSH does have a disclaimer that goes unnoticed, and has no mechanism to remove posts or remove people from their “social network”.

I believe Dan Boyle’s picture is particularly offensive, but this is considered “art” by CRUSH.  If you click on each picture, there are messages there, particularly on Dan Burn’s photo.  It’s a shame that one rotten apple has spoiled the efforts of CRUSH, but so be it.  They could have taken appropriate measures but did nothing.

This s a group that seems to want to do good things in Holyoke, but then how can you take them seriously when they allow this garbage.  What’s next?  Pornagraphy via cutting and pasting?  We are asking that the Chamber of Commerce, the Latino Chamber of Commerce and the Holyoke Taxpayers Association ban CRUSH from their sponsorship of the upcoming October debates.  We are hoping that these professional groups (unlike the childness of people associated with CRUSH) will heed our call.

Remember – you are who you are associated with.  If CRUSH wants to be  taken seriously, then they need to act it.

Thank you.  Please fell free to forward this to your contacts and boycott any events sponsored by this group CRUSH.

 …and there was this one that was forwarded to me:

Dear Rory and Christine:

I am writing you in hopes that not only will you have these pictures removed from your web site, but in addition remove this James Bickford as well.

I quote from your own disclaimer:

Harassing activity such as spam and libelous misrepresentation will result in immediate removal from the network.” I take this to mean remove the person, not the photo.

I am asking you personally to remove these photos and remove him as well. This is not the way to get your message across. You may say you don’t censor anyone but perhaps you should. You should create a link to have garbage like this removed like they do in masslive. I didn’t even know these were on your site, but someone called me to let me know they were on facebook. Then I went to your site.

This person is bringing your organization down. Not only did he post these pictures on your site, but facebook as well. He may think this is art, but his art is having a profound negative effect on your site.

What if someone posts something pronographic? Is that allowed to stay on? Is that person allowed to stay on? You need to take this seriously, particularly when your organization sponsors events with other organization like the Chamber, the Boys and Girls Club, etc. I’ve heard from people that are actually going to boycott anything you do now, particularly the debates. This has not bode well in the community. And regardless of what you think, the fact that these pictures and he remains as a member does reflect negatively on CRUSH.

He puts your group into a very serious predicament to be sued as well.

I am seeking legal recourse against him, art or no art. I am also hoping that you will do the right thing and remove him and those pictures today.

Thank you.

Patti

That first email, I am told, went out to the Chamber of Commerce and Holyoke Taxpayers association email lists.  Bad enough she is threatening what would amount to a SLAPP suit with no legal leg to stand in; I am not sure if she should be abusing these email lists with her attempts at harassing CRUSH.  That in itself should be investigated.

An official statement was issued by CRUSH outlining their decision to capitulate to the bully and another story appeared in the Republican and online at Masslive detailing the actions of the CRUSH steering committee.

Further adding to the bullying that exists in the shadowy world that is Holyoke’s mafia styled politics and the typical of the hateful bile that one witnesses on Masslive, there were a number of anonymous comments issued – now deleted – from these Masslive articles.  The irony in these is that most of them were angry insults about my “hiding behind the 1st Amendment” while they posted from their mother’s basements using the anonymity of a screen name.  In these comments my girlfriend was threatened, I was told, “I should not worry about being censored, rather I should worry about having my skull broken” and that “I should watch my back”.  Her supporters are genuinely nice people.

The opinion of many here is that she was simply waiting for an opportunity to discredit CRUSH because the steering committee has two council members that she considers threatening as they are outsiders to the good ‘ol boy cronyism that is embedded in city politics…  and that CRUSH, a grassroots organization, wants to “Northampton-ize” our fair city.  We should not forget that in 2010 Patti did receive the well deserved Valley Advocate’s dishonor of “Horns” for her opposition to the chicken ordinance and in 2011 CRUSH won the Best of the Valley award for activism; beating out groups like Project No One Leaves, ARISE, Food Bank of Western Mass.  This award reeks about as much as Obama’s Nobel Prize with his now five wars, expanded war chest and continued rendition flights to torture prisons constructed under his admin.

It was said by Patti that I was “bringing the organization down”.  The Steering Committee decision sets a far worse precedent than some absurd lampooning in Photoshop found online.  CRUSH is now divided.  One person took their ball and left when they saw the images.  A number of others have contacted me in support.  A couple of folks are quitting the organization due to the censorship.  It seems all too extreme from both sides.  Sure, personally, I am offended by CRUSH’s decision to capitulate to her bullying…  sure, I would have worked with the steering committee had they contacted me before they began to discuss a vote to censure.  That is not at all what is important here and it is not why I write.  I am writing in the hopes that people would see the heart of the issue which is a government official using threats and bullying to suppress legitimate public speech because it was criticism and satire directed their way and that the Republican failed in its coverage of this story.

Canal Monster

2011/09/26 in Activism, Art, Holyoke, Mayor, Politics, Press

Just in case you have not seen this, here is the local news coverage of the Canal Walk ribbon cutting.  Not a single word was said about the strange sight that was caught on video.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

2011/09/26 in Activism, H.U.S.H., Holyoke

My observations on the Holyoke Pre-preliminary Candidate Forum.

First, let me say, I would not trust Burns or Boyle to run a laundromat let alone this city. I don’t understand how these hacks can be considered legitimate candidates by anyone. Boyle continues to cite his accomplishments in business but fails to explain the black spot of bankruptcy that is on his record. Burns seemed like he did not even know where he was, and was nearly inaudible at times – which was no fault of any audio problems, as there were some, but he mumbled throughout most of his answers. Jobs, jobs, jobs is their mantra but a casino is the best thing that they can come up with.

I do want to say great work to everyone involved especially John Aubin for donating the use of his space at Open Square.

Some highlights from Thursday night and my thoughts:

1) Lowes = Jobs – Yeah, this was a big topic years ago. Does Boyle know that Lowes is closing dozens of stores in Connecticut and Illinois as I type this. Wait and see. Lowes will do the exact same thing that Borders did earlier this year. Disappear.

2) A casino = Jobs – Casinos are not legal at the moment – might never be legal for that matter and if they do become a reality there will be only one in Western Mass – all indications point to Palmer – and the creation of a gaming council and licensing could take several years before ground breaking (in Palmer). Also, aren’t the Mohegan and the Pequot tribes in the red for over a combined $3 billion?  Also don’t you need a credit and background check to work in a casino? How many unemployed Holyokers that would actually want casino job would qualify for one? The casino might have some jobs for the locals in cleaning porcelain or emptying ash trays as the casino will most likely import all the management and trained table gaming jobs.  Of the four it was only Morse who had any sense here with his opposition to a casino.

3) Get this!!! Boyle actually said that one thing to alleviating poverty would be to fast track convenience stores and gas stations to allow them to create Dunkin Donuts drive-thru windows. Is he THAT out of touch? Not only is the idea of a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru disgusting, those are jobs for the poor because it keeps them poor. Boyle can go [expletive deleted] take a bag of [expletive deleted] doughnuts and [expletive deleted] his [expletive deleted] neck.

4) Burns said that Holyoke would have the first “Green Casino” in the world. REALLY? The casino again? I wish the audience could have asked for a response to that claim because I wondered that if when he said “Green Casino” he actually meant painted in shamrocks and employed by leprechauns. On a bright note, this forum clearly had him losing any hope of election because as if the mumbling was not enough he actually fell asleep at one point then waking up with an audible snort.

5) Computing and high tech – both Boyle and Morse said that more jobs would come from the new computing center. I agree. Granted, we only see a few employees at first but it is only the beginning and all we need to do is look at Google’s data center in Dalles, Oregon or the fact that environmentalists are criticizing Apple for their polluting iTunes data centers that run on coal. High computing is high energy consumption. Data centers can be built anywhere and many are looking to be near nuclear and green energy. Holyoke exists near an internet backbone corridor and has the hydro power. Not that I am a big fan of the new Micro Trading trend but these and other similar high bandwidth / low latency businesses (content delivery, hosting, cloud computing) are locating where these places set up (and with Cisco involved we have them offering the products to support these types of businesses). If Holyoke became the location for an IXP we’d see business flock here. I can see it happening, with only one in New England and a couple dozen in the USA growth will see a demand for more.  Plus, with the density of colleges in the area, the migration of professionals from Boston and New York to nearby Northampton, Easthampton, etc that all telecommute, new high-speed data consumer and business needs for increased bandwidth and the need for green power all align with Holyoke taking the lead if it wants to. Much more realistic than manufacturing and retail where there is no growth or with the magic fairy dust casino not even a reality. Of course, Boyle probably thinks the data center should have a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru and video slot machines for it to be legit.  Pluta did say “Facebook” twice.  I checked out her Facebook page and there is a question from a resident posted Aug 22nd that remains unanswered.  Well, at least Pluta can pronounce Facebook…  I’ll give her that.

6) It was only Morse that spoke with energy. The others all seemed tired or uninterested. Except for Pluta, in the end, who tried to pull a Jessie Jackson “keep hope alive” moment yet not nearly as inspiring with her monotone Donald Duck voiced mantra “you can depend on experience”. It was so silly, but I wanted to shout “Hallelujah” only because she finally got pumped up. It was almost inspiring if not disturbing.  Maybe her meds finally kicked in?  Someone should tell her that experience is only a selling point if along with it comes a history of positive results.

7) Sure, the questions were all scripted and there was no Q&A with the audience but before the preliminary election it would be great to hear Pluta address her baggage that is Moran and the super-secret-double-probation that some unnamed Council on Aging employee received after stealing and then returning near $20,000.00. Cronyism at its best here in Holyoke.

8) There were a number of questions in the information package handed out that were not addressed to the public forum.  One question that I hoped would be part dialog was the one where Boyle suggested that to engage the population in decision making that there was no reason to have the city website bilingual – they should learn to speak English.  What kind of a mother-[expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] moron would say this?  Sadly lacking from the public forum or the packet was any discussion about the Public Access TV PEG funds that in every other community are managed by a citizen board and are used for things directly related to Public Access, Education and bringing Government meetings to the public.  Here in Holyoke the funds are managed by the mayor, the president of the city council and the city attorney.  There is no public accounting of these funds and there appears to be no momentum to changing how they are managed.  It would be great to see community access and AV departments in the high schools.

9) In the end it was Morse that clearly stood out. He never said anything absurd and he seemed sincerely enthusiastic. I know that people always credit his age as a negative aspect. If he is legally qualified for the job then he’s old enough for the job. Heck, Alexander the Great ruled over half the world at age 22.  At the same time it is odd to hear criticism of his age when it was his youth that sold him at the forum.  I am certainly not one espouse ageism, but I must say I felt that his energy, spirit and appearance put him in stark contrast next to these tired, bloated and confused that were in competition. Though, Pluta did wear a new suit at this event instead of her usual pastel velour track pants that my grandmother used to wear. Dan “Boyle means business” also looked good in his Men’s Warehouse buy one get one free suit that he got for the occasion. …and once again at the back of the pack it was Burns who failed to clean the crumbs off his shirt from the potato chips he was scarfing earlier at the hors d’oeuvres table. When I first saw him I jokingly said to a friend: “who invited the tramp?”  Morse kicked serious ass with his appearance and energy.

As usual, I have low expectations for Holyoke politics. Morse looks too good to win so in all likelihood we will get stuck with some absolute hack. At least they will be an experienced hack, right?  If you want to see change (or a sea change) in Holyoke, get out and vote…  we do have a chance here.