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Holyoke Councilor Jennifer Chateauneuf to Resign

2016/04/05 in Chateauneuf, Council, Facebook, Panitch, pronography

HOLYOKE DOES DESERVE BETTER. SHE GOT THAT PART RIGHT.

Good Bye

Delightful!

She claims to be done with he said / she said but yet she still continues in that mode in this public resignation.  Not surprising.  She really should apologize to the person that she attempted to frame and to the City of Holyoke for her absolute embarrassment of our wonderful city. I do hope that her seat is soon filled by someone who holds a respect for the Constitution and for the people that the post represents.

What next?

From the Holyoke Charter:

If the full number of members of the city council has not been elected, or if a vacancy in the office of councilor shall occur more than six months previous to the expiration of the municipal year, the city council may forthwith elect a person to fill such vacancy until the next municipal election.

Previous election results puts Mimi Panitch as a likely candidate here:

Peter R. Tallman (winner) 5476
Joseph M. McGiverin (winner) 4988
James M. Leahy (winner) 4575
Daniel B. Bresnahan (winner) 4286
Howard B. Greaney Jr. (winner) 3845
Michael J. Sullivan (winner) 3833
Jennifer E. Chateauneuf (winner) 3803
Rebecca Lisi (winner) 3799
Mimi Panitch 3021
James F. Brunault 2828
Jordan M. Lemieux 2660
Adrian K. Dahlin 1925
Darlene Elias 1836
Mike Franco 1730
Anne N. Thalheimer 1197
Jemma B. Penberthy 859

 

 

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.

 

Holyoke Voters Guide from HUSH.

2012/11/05 in Council, Democrats, Economics, Elections, Federal, Green Party, H.U.S.H., Hobert, Holyoke, Imperialism, Politics, Purcell, Vacon, Vega, War

Tomorrow, November 6th is Election Day

…and HUSH has provided this handy-dandy election guide:

FOR UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:

DR. JILL STEIN/ CHERI HONKALA

Dr. Jill Stein’s 2012 presidential campaign is what inspired me to finally join the Green-Rainbow Party. Here is a caring, compassionate and sincere candidate whose knowledge of the various issues and their consequences is unimpeachable and whose presence in debates past and present has shifted the parameters of political discourse in the Commonwealth during her 2002 gubernatorial run and have hopefully helped us make greater strides towards shifting the parameters of political discourse throughout the United States. This is a contest about clean, environmentally responsible, and community responsive politics and the fundamental system-wide change desperately needed to bring us there. Vote your values, not your fears. Vote for universal healthcare, not universal warfare. President Obama has engaged us in more military combat operations than any prior US President in history; supported off shore drilling, fracking, and mountain top removal mining; and has beyond doubt the most draconian and Orwellian civil rights record of any US President since I dare say World War II – while former Governor W. Mitt Romney has surrounded himself with the most frighteningly neo-conservative band of foreign policy advisors since President George W. Bush, while enunciating positions regarding the social safety net that I quite frankly find abominable.

https://www.facebook.com/drjillstein

http://www.jillstein.org/

FOR UNITED STATES SENATOR:

WRITE-IN: MARISA DIFRANCO

The so-called “centrist” stance of the would be Modern Whig Party holds very little appeal to me. The movement has adopted stances regarding the national debt that I believe would invite economic contraction, a “Constitutionalist” attitude regarding federalism and separation of powers that I believe to be dangerous and ill advised, national defense fetishism. a stance regarding affirmative action that I believe backward and ignorant of how problems of institutional racism still affect us, and a cavalier disregard for the health care rights of women. Therefore, despite rather progressive positions that Bill Cimbrelo has otherwise adopted regarding immigration and universal health care, his write-in candidacy holds little appeal for me. The campaigns of both Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, have revealed foreign policy platforms still embracing a United States imperial mission and saber rattling against Iran each on the basis of misinformation; and neo-liberal education and economic policies I can in no way support.

Marisa DiFranco was the one truly progressive candidate this year seeking the US Senate seat, and yet the Democratic Party state convention in its infinite wisdom declined the voting public opportunity to debate and hear her stance on issues out of fears that she might reveal how truly far to the right the politics of Elizabeth Warren in fact are. We therefore had a Senate campaign highly detailed in terms of how the major candidates each could hurl mud at the other, but far less so dealing in the truly substantive issues that each campaign either lied about or neglected. If the Democratic Party has hopes to finally gain this Senate seat back again, they will have to nominate a genuine progressive like Marisa DiFranco to have the slightest bit of assistance from me.

FOR REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS, FIRST DISTRICT:

WRITE IN: BILL SHEIN

Bill Shein, of Alford, is the candidate whose steadfast embrace of progressive politics has impressed me the most during the Democratic Party primary contest – and although he has not apparently carried over his campaign as an independent challenger like I had hoped, I shall certainly make it a point to write him in. He refuses to find himself beholden to monied interests in Washington, opposes corporate personhood, and embraces a genuine environmentalist platform. Here’s a candidate who would have opposed vociferously the neo-liberal policy prescriptions that the Massachusetts Democratic Party leadership sadly has embraced wholeheartedly. Why vote for Richard Neal, who now runs unopposed? Please consider writing in the name of Bill Shein.

FOR SENATOR IN THE GENERAL COURT, SECOND HAMPDEN AND HAMPSHIRE

WRITE IN: RICHARD PURCELL

Richard Purcell is among the most energetic, gifted, determined and extraordinary social and economic justice activists and advocates I have ever met, and he’s the former Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor. Within this state Senate district, the Republican incumbent Michael Knapik is running unopposed, without even token Democratic and independent opposition. We can, and we must, do better. Rick Purcell would unquestionably do better. Write him in.

REPRESENTATIVE IN GENERAL COURT, FIFTH HAMPDEN DISTRICT

AARON VEGA

While I may have disagreed with Aaron Vega on a number of issues and have been critical of his lack of voice in the council on some other issues where I expected him to be a leading voice of forward thinking progressive ideas and he was not; he is the best choice on the ballot to be our representative in this election.  I also believe that with what was political pressure here that might have had him more concerned with image and political capital that he’d would best serve us away from all that in Boston rather than city council.  I do believe that he’ll work for Holyoke’s best interests in this role.  On top of that his competition is absolutely absurd.  Linda Vacon is a paranoid Tea-Party / Glenn Beck 9-12 patriot that is not fit to lead in any capacity – and not because of her politics; but because she is a legitimate simpleton.  Yes, you can have an MS in Nursing (or anything) and be a complete fool.  The other candidate, Jerome Hobert, began his career in a blatant fraud.  You can find his name on the Green Party line but he is by no way a representative of Green Party values nor is he endorsed by the Green Party – in fact, the party has filed a complaint with the State Election Commision against Mr. Hobert.  More details here.

FOR COUNCILLOR, EIGHTH DISTRICT

WRITE IN: PETER VICKERY

Peter Vickery, who was by far the most very progressive Councillor the body has yet seen, has continued to champion a long laundry list of social justice issues and progressive causes – and it is my fondest heart’s desire to see him seek office again. Michael Albano, beyond doubt, is a social liberal of the sort we should certainly hope to continue holding this seat. However, his political history within Springfield as Boss of one of the most thoroughly corrupt political machines in recent memory shall never sit well with me. Michael Franco, meanwhile, has an unfortunately quite homophobic and misogynist advocacy track record marking him as by far one of the most frighteningly far right candidates ever to seek office throughout the whole of Western Massachusetts.

BALLOT QUESTION #1: “RIGHT TO REPAIR”

MY VOTE IS NO

My belief is that “Right to Repair” remains a trojan horse for chain auto parts stores to duck regulations and unfairly compete with mechanics.  I had read much on both sides of this issue and was not certain where to stand until I spoke to the folks at my favorite shop, Garvulinski Service Station here in Holyoke which was postering for the “NO” stance.  In this case, however, the ballot measure remains in many ways moot as the State Legislature has already passed into law similar such legislation.

https://www.facebook.com/saynotoSB2204

BALLOT QUESTION #2: “PHYSICIAN ASSISTED SUICIDE”

MY VOTE IS NO

For what I believe to be very powerful and well reasoned arguments against the measure as written, I refer the reader to the following:

https://www.facebook.com/SecondThoughtsMA

http://www.second-thoughts.org/

BALLOT QUESTION #3: “MEDICINAL MARIJUANA”

MY VOTE IS YES

For what I believe to be very powerful and well reasoned arguments in support of the measure, I refer the reader to the following:

https://www.facebook.com/CommitteeForCompassionateMedicine

http://www.compassionforpatients.com/

NON BINDING: FUND OUR COMMUNITIES NOT WAR QUESTION:

MY VOTE IS YES

Full text of the question: “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress and the President to: (1) prevent cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans benefits, or to housing, food and unemployment assistance; (2) create and protect jobs by investing in manufacturing, schools, housing, renewable energy, transportation and other public services; (3) provide new revenues for these purposes and to reduce the long-term federal deficit by closing corporate tax loopholes, ending offshore tax havens, and raising taxes on incomes over $250,000; and (4) redirect military spending to these domestic needs by reducing the military budget, ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing U.S. troops home safely now?”

There is no reason not to get behind these proposals.  Of the top developed / industrialized nations the USA ranks bottom in almost every indicator concerning health, welfare and happiness.  We also rank #1 for disparity in wealth.  2011 was the largest profit year in history for oil companies and the military industrial contractors and manufacturers.  This is largely do to our efforts in Imperialism & nation building and our piss poor energy policies.  We need to work towards a renewable and post scarcity energy policy.  We need to get on a new path and take the $1 trillion (and growing) annually that we spend in our war efforts and put it better use.  Send a message to our leadership that we demand that elusive “change” .

==================================

I’d like to thank Mr. Broadhurst for the lion’s share of the above text.  I’d also like to remind voters that when you go to the polls vote for that person that most represents you.  If you choose “lesser of evils” and select the candidate that you might disagree with on foreign policy issues like the murder of innocent people in the name of “security”; that despite your dislike of such policy your vote for that candidate is indeed approval for that policy to continue.  The duopoly and the illusion of choice that the RNC/DNC provides is indeed intentional.  The only people that benefit from their leadership in the executive and in congress is those that are their masters – and it is not the voting public…  it is those CEOs and shareholders that profit the most from US Imperialism and War.  The only way we can mend this nation (and, I believe, work towards survival of our species) is to end the two-party strangle-hold.  No matter who wins of the two mainstream it is a continual shift towards an imperial fascist-coroptocracy police surveillance state.  We need to take the power away via electoral politics before we see what is happening in Greece and Spain make it to our shores.  We are indeed headed in that direction and if that becomes the catalyst for change then so be it.  I just wish that the voting public would wake up before it comes to that.  We should look to Iceland for inspiration.

Sights on Greenfield

2012/07/21 in Absurd, Council, Greenfield, H.U.S.H., Homophobia, Mailbag, pronography, Quote

Meet Greenfield City Councilor Brickett Allis.

On a Facebook discussion here is what Brickett had to say about the Boy Scouts of America members recent protest where Eagle Scouts are returning their badges in response to the BSA stated anti-gay discrimination policy.

Copy / Pasted exactly as it appeared:

“you know what I would say to this! I resent that base on your opinion you woudl ellude to the fact that if we don’t send them back we are somehow homophobic. thats a bunch of shit this makes me pretty mad.   look im not a homophobe, but i am a realist, you put gay men in a group of other boys/men there is a higher liklihood that it could lead to any number of things some of which may not be appropriate…….exactly the same point as you put a group of heterosexual men in a room with women and they tend to do things that may or may not be appropriate. the issue is that scouting is not teaching boys its wrong to be gay, they are taking the same stance the millitary did don’t ask dont tell and i know you wont agree but i think its the right stance. secondly scouts is based in part on being reverent to god, and like it or not that god was the christian god the one that that all you libbies out there cant stand. and based on that god and that religion homosexuallity is not okay. do i give a shit about what someone is??? NO!!! but that goes across the board i dont care if you are fucking a horse just shut up about it and there will be no problem. if no one talked we would all be equal. but unfortunately everyone wants to make a “point” about thier sexuality. and the underlying message of this picture is to say that the only “good scouts” are the ones that send back their awards. well good for them feel free to feel better about yourself, i personally dont care how these morons sending them back feel. I just hope that they get enough back that they can send them back out free of charge to the new eagle scouts. this whole fiasco I find disgusting!”

Link to a full resolution screenshot from Facebook.

Fucking brilliant!  Only a cartoon character could say it better.

 

 

 

Demolition Delay (Or Not) in Holyoke: Shame, Shame, Shame, Shame on You

2012/07/05 in Alex Morse, Council, H.U.S.H., History, Holyoke, Lisi, Mayor, Vega

123 Newton Street demolition

 

 

On May 2, the Holyoke Historical Commission voted unanimously to impose demolition delay for 123 Newton Street. The property is privately owned but abandoned, and the City planned to use HUD CDBG monies to tear it down.  This was not an emergency demolition for public safety but a routine demolition application which therefore rightly came before the HHC for review. In the discussion leading up to their vote, Commissioners said they were glad they had a new tool to recommend for preservation efforts – quicker acquisition and auction of abandoned properties by the City.

 

On May 16, the City Solicitor issued a legal opinion on Holyoke’s demolition delay ordinance, an opinion which contradicts both the text of the ordinance itself (and even explicitly acknowledges that it does so!) and twelve years of precedents.  It claims that because the HHC had known of the possibility of demolition longer than six months ago, it could no longer impose a delay, even though the very trigger for a delay – notice of a demolition application provided via the Building Department – hadn’t come before the HHC until just before their May meeting. This new interpretation totally subverts the purpose and power of a delay ordinance and sets a terrible precedent for other historic buildings in the city. Guess which other properties have been mentioned to the HHC as possible candidates for demolition longer than six months ago, but for which the HHC hasn’t yet seen a demo application? That would include Mater Dolorosa’s steeple, Lyman Terrace in its entirety, 399 Appleton (a brick Victorian which the YMCA hopes to raze to make a parking lot), and others. If the HHC tries to impose a delay on any of those properties now or at any time in the future, their owners now have new grounds (grounds which didn’t exist at all before) to sue the city to lift the delay or to recover any losses experienced because of a delay. Any owner of a Holyoke property greater than fifty years old would be smart to send the HHC a letter indicating the mere possibility of a partial or full demolition some day; as long as any work would commence at least six months from the date of the letter, the HHC would be powerless to do anything about it. In the City Council’s lengthy questioning which led to the solicitor’s confirmation, I don’t remember anyone asking about basic reading comprehension or understanding the significance of precedent, but unfortunately those councilors who expressed reservations about confirming an attorney who believed and behaved as though she didn’t have to play by the rules  and could put loyalty above doing the right thing (hiring a friend for a city job without ever posting the position) are now vindicated: apparently the attitude and behavior weren’t a one-off after all. Elizabeth Rodriguez-Ross, shame on you.

 

Armed with this ridiculous opinion — which was obtained at Mayor Morse’s request and presumably his direction — the mayor ordered demolition of the building without delay, and so it began. In taking his oath of office, Morse swore to uphold the ordinances of the City of Holyoke; in this case, he has not done so. On that inauguration day and since, the mayor has called for unity, but he should be reminded that it is not sycophants, friends or allies who keep a politician honest. It would have been better to have asked for integrity over unity. If demolishing that building were truly so important to him, the mayor could have attended (or sent a representative to attend) the HHC’s meeting to make the argument for demolition over preservation in a public meeting in accordance with Open Meeting law. (For the record, no one outside the HHC showed up to support or oppose demolition or delay for the two properties addressed May 2.) I understand the mayor is young and inexperienced, and there’s a learning curve to be expected, but it’s certainly feeling like it isn’t too soon for this Morse voter to hope he’s a one-off.  Alex Morse, shame on you.

 

On June 28, the City Council Ordinance Committee took up a proposal from Councilor and Committee Chair Rebecca Lisi to update the demolition delay ordinance “to bring it in line with current city practices.” How about instead insisting the City’s practices get and stay in line with its ordinances?! There is room to improve the ordinance, but before getting to that, allow a moment’s digression to explain why the Committee took up the matter between 10 and 11 pm, by which time all councilors not on the Committee, all media representatives, and almost all members of the public had left.

 

Mayor Morse had called an emergency meeting of the full City Council during the previously scheduled time for the Ordinance Committee meeting in order to secure funding for the new arts position. I think the arts position is a good idea, and it’s exceedingly rare that I agree with Linda Vacon about anything (we’re about as far apart on the political spectrum as we can get and still both be Americans who value democracy), but she is sometimes the only voice of common sense in the room, and that night offered one of those moments: “Mr. Mayor, this is not an emergency.”

 

Back to the issue of demolition delay….the Ordinance Committee used the opportunity of ordinance review to assign blame in all the wrong places and to fail to ask for accountability where it was due. Councilor Vega demanded in a most hostile tone to know why the HHC had voted for a delay on 123 Newton Street’s demolition when other historically valuable properties had previously been allowed to progress to demolition without delay. If he’s arguing that the building had no value warranting preservation, he could have attended the HHC’s May meeting to argue that case. And if his intent wasn’t to blame the HHC for doing their job correctly (as they did with 123 Newton Street) but instead to ask why they hadn’t been more aggressive in the past, he’s had two and a half years on Council to address that issue. But he might remember that the City’s streamlined acquisition and auction process is only newly available as an alternative to demolition.  So instead of directing hostility towards the party that is in compliance, why not demand to know why the interpretation of the ordinance has been changed and why city planners aren’t helping the HHC explore preservation alternatives? Of course, asking those questions would require confronting the mayor, who recently endorsed Vega’s campaign for state representative. So I guess that’s never going to happen. Shame on you, Aaron Vega.

 

Continuing the theme of misdirected blame, Councilor Alexander faulted the HHC for not working on a preservation plan sooner. But the language of the ordinance is very clear: the preservation planning period begins with the imposition of a demolition delay, which can only be triggered after receipt of notice from the Building Commissioner that a demolition permit has been applied for. Rather than blaming the HHC for complying with the ordinance, blame the ordinance’s authors (ahem…that would be the City Council), and blame city planners for working always and only towards demolition plans (where the HHC could only be stepping in as a hostile party under the terms of the ordinance) but never towards preservation plans (where the HHC’s input could have been sought sooner in the process). In regards to 399 Appleton, Alexander charged the HHC with an obligation to assist the YMCA with finding alternative solutions for its parking needs. Nonsense! Besides being an entirely specious issue (there’s always plenty of on-street parking available nearby), finding solutions to businesses’ parking needs is the task of the planning department, with its multiple, full-time, paid professionals and interns, not the part-time volunteers of the HHC. Again, addressing the issues correctly would require confronting paid, full-time professionals and everybody’s BFF’s: the YMCA management, the new head of Planning, and the mayor. But apparently it’s easier just to beat up on volunteers and ask them to work both harder and outside their purview.  Shame on you, Gordon Alexander.

 

I will give credit, however, to Alexander for two things: first, for describing the City Solicitor’s legal opinion on the demolition delay ordinance as “not worth the paper it’s printed on,” and second, for defending the timeline for imposing a delay (when demolition is sought is exactly when a delay would be needed!) even while suggesting the preservation planning process should begin sooner.  The ordinance should be improved with mechanisms for an earlier preservation planning period and clearer timelines for steps. Also, the language for exemption for properties identified by a now-defunct committee should simply be eliminated — already, emergency demolitions for public safety are exempt, and that is the only exemption truly needed. Council should use this review as an opportunity to strengthen the ordinance and the autonomy of the HHC, not to water it down to make destroying the city’s architectural heritage and built capital easier for Holyoke’s paid officials.

 

Earlier in the evening, the Committee took up the structure and by-laws of the HHC and its relationship to Wistariahurst Museum. Alicia Zoeller (of the Office of Community Development) made a worthy suggestion for getting the HHC professional assistance for their work. Unfortunately, no councilors and no one else present had the integrity or temerity to mention the elephant in the room, to ask the question whose answer is critical for determining any changes to the HHC structure and for assuring future compliance with the letter and spirit of a demolition delay ordinance and historical preservation efforts: can seven part-time volunteers, who all serve at the appointment of a mayor, be an effective check against the power of that mayor and the mayor’s administration? Particularly when the culture of government in this city has been and remains strongly tilted towards demolition and against preservation?

 

I’ve used up my four “shames” (though I’m sure it would be easy enough to find four more), but there’s also still the matter of a councilor (I believe it was either Vega or Alexander, but I honestly don’t remember which) grilling the HHC about structural integrity, a concern that is entirely the responsibility of the full-time, paid, professional Building Commissioner, who can seek an assessment from the City Engineer (also a full-time paid professional), and not the responsibility whatsoever of the volunteers who comprise the HHC, whose duties are solely related to historic assessment and preservation planning. Was it simply too uncomfortable to direct that question to the BC (who was sitting silently in the same room before the Committee), given that the BC is husband to the Committee’s Chair and an appointee of the current mayor? Just so I’m clear, I believe the BC did his job correctly — he provided notice of the demolition application to the HHC and did not order an emergency demolition for a structure where it wasn’t warranted — but if councilors believe otherwise or have questions about those decisions, they should be asking them of the BC, not the HHC.

 

Mayor Morse has been very effective at developing a cult of personality, and that can have some benefits (it’s yielded Holyoke some positive media attention, for example), but it also carries significant risks. If knee-jerk opposition (opposition without considering the merits of an issue) is wrong, and I believe it is, knee-jerk support is at least as wrong and probably more dangerous. Unfortunately, the councilors elected in the interests of progress and change continue to demonstrate they value political loyalty and unity over accountability, patronage and Leichtigkeit-des-Cocktails-trinken-zusammen over the checks and balances essential to democracy. They and Rodriguez-Ross wreck their own reputations by behaving indefensibly as they try to provide cover to the mayor for this mess. In place of another shame, I’ll say a pox on all your houses – may a wrecking ball soon visit, may you receive a certificate to relocate out of Holyoke, and may your wealthier new neighbors exert a positive moral influence on you (as if!), a moral influence that’s obviously sorely needed (unfortunately, too true).

 

Meet the New Holyoke, same as the Old Holyoke. And in some cases, worse.

 

 

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

2011/11/09 in Activism, At-large, Chickens, Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Mike Plaisance, Patti Devine

There’s a saying…

(Hot off the press, here’s Patti’s thank you / victory ad in today’s Repuke)

…don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

Morse’s win is delightful, but this, here…  it is savory.  At the same time, there is some remorse to losing one’s nemesis.  In some ways I will miss Patti.

The Quiet Revolution

2011/11/09 in Alex Morse, Bresnahan, Casino, Charter, Council, Elections, History, Holyoke, Lies, Mayor, Patti Devine, Pluta, Politics, Purcell, Tallman

Oh, What A Night!


(this is our new mayor)

So….  it happened.  The bar has been officially been raised.  I don’t think that elections in this city could ever be the same after this.  Yes, we have two years to shake this out and really absorb what has happened…  my only hope is that now we can have more folks step forward to rid this stale environment of its collective inertia.  I also hope that never again we can rely on names, political favors and yard signs as an indication of the political climate – that we have popular engagement, emotion and true spirit driving the action.  I do believe Alex’s credo when he says: “This is not about my campaign, this is about Holyoke.”  People need to stand up and make this true and support him in this effort.  Yes, he won.  Now we have work to do.

Morse won…  Devine lost.  Lisi held on.  Tallman is a winner.  That is some serious joy to be shared.   Sure, we gained that jackass Bresnahan and still carry a ton of dead weight, but I do hope that we end with a council that will work with our new mayor.  At-large did not have that great of a shakeup because there was not the competition, but Morse’s win is a mandate…  I hope that these people see his win as affecting their political liability if they are expecting to work against Morse.  …and down the road we need to challenge McGee, Vacon and run a larger field of at-large in two years to make this possible.  I said that I wished that I could vote in Wards 1, 3 and 7.  They went my way except for Ward 3.  Purcell’s loss was the biggest disappointment here.  Of course, with the at large not being contested there is no way it could have gone my way and seen Vega, Devine, Murphy, Leahy and Bresnahan as losers (in the election, that is…  they are still losers)… so I am at least happy to see the exit of Devine.  Purcell would have been the sole progressive voice on the committee.  Sure, there are some that lean left, but he was my most politically aligned candidate.  I do hope he keeps it up and is part of the 2013′s at-large contest to eliminate more of the chaff.

Of course, I do hope that the progress we see is not “growth” and not gentrification but rather efficiency.  We are a severely divided city.  Downtown is not the desert that many view it as…  it is an asset.  We do not need “revitalization”.  We have a vibrant culture that needs to be engaged, lifted up and made our calling card.  It is all about perspective.  The Latino community and the burgeoning artist district are our diamonds in the rough.  Yeah, with the casino versus data center I will always choose the later, but I would never bet the house on some high tech computing that will possibly have military and surveillance applications.  I know that this is a campaign issue, but I would be happy with neither happening.  This election was about the people…  Holyoke has what it needs to make it happen right now without the “jobs” mantra or this versus that bad idea.

The campaigning for 2013 has already started for many, that is the sad state of affairs in our political environment but we can only hope that the Old Guard has seen the writing on the wall and that this is the beginning of a sea change for this great city.

I dedicate this song, to you, Holyoke:

(yes, I want to make love to Holyoke… every one of you)

Casinos win by betting on losers.

2011/11/07 in Activism, Alex Morse, Bresnahan, Casino, Council, Development, Economics, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Jobs, Law, Lies, Lisi, Mailbag, Mall, Mayor, McGee, Murphy, Patti Devine, Pluta, Politics, Vega

How a Holyoke CASINO Will Affect You and Your Family

(and why your vote on Tuesday, November 8th matters)

A casino has been proposed for Wyckoff Country Club. Word is that a proposal for a casino in a different Holyoke neighborhood may be forthcoming soon. And outside casino developers are spending significant amounts of money to elect pro-casino candidates to influential positions.

With the Holyoke election just a few days way, you might want to consider how your vote could seriously affect your home, your family and your neighborhood.

Here are some troubling statistics on what casinos bring to their host communities:

within 5 years of the opening of a new casino:

• robberies are up 136%
• auto theft is up 78%
• larceny is up 38%
• aggravated assaults are up 91%
• burglary is up 50%
• rape is up 21%
• Incidents of prostitution, drunk driving and embezzlement also skyrocket
• all this happens despite significantly increased police staffing and increased police budgets http://uss-mass.org/crime.html

Casinos cause nearby property values to plummet by as much as 20%

Casino developers and proponents are touting “potential” property tax reductions, but you might want to do the math first. If your $200,000 home loses just 10% of its value after a casino comes to town – and assuming the City lowered your yearly taxes by $500 (which is way more than projected) – it would take 40 years for you just to break even.

If you own a business – or work for someone who does – you should be concerned:

Casinos siphon money away from locally owned businesses and into the pockets of distant owners. They bleed local businesses dry. Businesses close or move out of town, along with their owners. Neighbors lose their jobs. In Atlantic City, the number of independent restaurants dropped from 48 the year casinos opened to 16 in 1997. Within just four years of the casinos’ arrival, one-third of the city’s retail businesses had closed.

“There has been no economic development spin-off from the casino. Businesses do not come here. Tourists come mainly to gamble. Gamblers have one thing in mind: get to the casino, win or lose their money, get in their cars, and go home.”
– Mayor Wesley Johnson of Ledyard, Conn (home of Foxwoods casino in Connecticut)

Telling Statement from CEO of the American Gaming Association:

“If someone were to come along and tell me that they were going to put a casino in McLean Virginia, where I live, I would probably work very, very hard against it. What’s the old saying . . . ‘not in my backyard’. Now I may be in favor of ‘gaming’, but I just don’t want it in (my) area.” — Frank Fahrenkopf CEO of the American Gaming Association

 

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT IF A CASINO COMES TO HOLYOKE:

Report after report shows that casinos negatively affect their host communities. They create traffic gridlock. They increase crime by an alarming percentage. They decrease property values. They siphon money away from local businesses, causing them to close or eliminate jobs. They discourage other businesses from moving into town. They increase the transient population. The middle and upper classes move out. Low-wage casino workers move in, often living in dorm-like arrangements. They ruin neighborhoods and communities and scare potential new residents away.

This effect has been repeated in community after community that has hosted casinos, and it is well documented. You don’t have to go to a fortune teller to know that all these problems are in store for Holyoke if a casino is built here.

Even the CEO of the American Gaming Organization – the very organization charged with promoting casino development – has said he would fight against a casino that wanted to locate in his home town.

While every one of us is for creating jobs, the “jobs, jobs, jobs” argument made by developers and proponents is irrelevant to Holyoke and is deliberately misleading. Virtually every applicant who would be qualified to work in Holyoke will be just as qualified to work in Palmer.  So, if it’s not really about jobs, what is it all about? The answer is money – how much and to whom. But no amount of money can make up for the permanent damage casinos cause to their host communities. And every one of those problems happens despite significant amounts of money being paid by casinos to host communities. Money doesn’t prevent the decline!

The City of Holyoke is poised to take its first giant steps forward in decades. With the green, high-tech Computing Center (and all the forward-thinking businesses and residents it is already attracting to Holyoke); with the budding artist community and the rejuvenation they bring to older communities; with the restoration of the Victory Theater; Canal Walk and Heritage State Park. A casino will stop much of that progress dead in its tracks and will only serve to send many of those investors, entrepreneurs and new residents fleeing in another direction.

ANTI-CASINO VOTER’S GUIDE:

On Tuesday, November 8th, casting your vote for the following candidates is the best way to stop a Holyoke casino:

MAYOR: Alex Morse

CITY COUNCIL:

(Reflects those in contested races who replied indicating opposition. Note: casting less than the 8 allowed votes in the At-Large race improves your candidates’ chances of winning.)

OPPOSED:

Peter Tallman
James Leahy
Rebecca Lisi
Gordon Alexander (Ward 7)

LEANING OPPOSED (SERIOUS RESERVATIONS OR TALKING SHIT?):

Aaron Vega
Kevin Jourdain
Yasser Menwer

Presented by:

Holyoke Against Casinos

Venimus, Vidimus, Vicimus

2011/11/02 in Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, McGee, Murphy, Politics, Press

Holyoke’s Power Duo

(Pictured here are Brenna Murphy and Todd McGee after they successfully reclaim Mt Tom from Easthampton)

Holyoke Charter

2011/11/01 in Bresnahan, Charter, Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., History, Holyoke, Politics, pronography

 Industria Et Copia

(Elizur Holyoke and the Founding Fathers of Holyoke create our beloved charter)

H.U.S.H. is opposed to the Charter Change due to its broad reach and numerous undesirable changes.  I can agree with only one measure in the proposed charter and that is a 4-year term for mayor.  This could happen without the charter proposal being passed.

Read the charter for yourself HERE. (if someone could send me a translated Spanish version in PDF please do)

There exists a Facebook Page called Holyoke Charter Change NO that lays out these reasons to opposition:

VOTE NO on the Proposed Charter Change:

Holyoke cannot afford this risky proposal!

Dear Fellow Voter:

There is going to be a referendum question on this year’s ballot  that proposes to change our City Charter and it has lots of fine print you are not being told about. This risky proposal would:

Weaken Voter Power:

  • Voters will no longer elect the City Clerk or City Treasurer
  • Voters will no longer elect a majority of their City Councilors
  • Only vote for the Mayor every 4 years not every 2 years which could be problematic especially if you get someone who is not doing a good job.

Eliminate Checks and Balances:

  • We already have a very strong Mayor: we should not consolidate nearly all power in one person!
  • Proposes to weaken the City Council and make the Mayor even more powerful
  • Mayor would appoint the Assessors, Tax Collector, Auditor and Treasurer instead of the City Council therefore eliminating the independence of their financial oversight roles.
  • Abolishes most city commissions including the Public Works and Fire Commissions and gives those powers to the Mayor. Also makes the Mayor a member of most remaining commissions.
  • Allows the Mayor to abolish or create any city department without the Council having the opportunity to amend the proposal.
  • Terms of office of city department heads are eliminated and they would serve at pleasure of the Mayor.
  • Recommends eliminating non-political civil service independence for city employees
  • Allows the Mayor to appoint a majority of the future commissions who will review our city charter and our city ordinances.

Make Expensive Changes we cannot afford in these tough economic times:

  • Gives the Mayor a 14% pay raise from $85,000 to $97,000 per year.
  • Creates a New Chief Financial Officer position appointed by the Mayor that would likely cost over $100,000 per year.
  • The proposed new charter is a risky exploration into a new form of government which no one fully knows for sure how it would work and could be the source of expensive future litigation.

Make other foolish changes:

  • The War Memorial Commission would no longer be made up exclusively of veterans.
  • Makes it harder for citizens to run for office and get on the ballot.
  • Eliminates Residency Requirements for city department heads.

Instead of making some simple common sense changes the voters could easily understand, the Charter Commission scrapped our entire charter for a new 53 page confusing and harmful form of government. Their proposal is so complex and confusing that it reads more like mortgage then a referendum. Holyoke’s voters deserve better!

Please Vote NO on the Proposed Charter Change and protect our city!

Outstanding

2011/10/30 in Activism, Art, Bresnahan, Charter, Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Lisi, Murphy, Politics, pronography, Vega

H.U.S.H. on the streets.

As HUSH readers witnessed in our readers poll we have decided to support Dan Bresnahan.  On a chilly October Saturday HUSH members stood out with our Bresnahan banner.  It was fun.  We did get a lot of smiles, honks and many hand gestures in the forms of waves, devil horns and a few middle fingers.  We certainly stuck out from the crowd and unfortunately may have detracted from other campaign efforts held at the Yankee Peddler corner.  Just as we were to wrap up our standout HUSH was blessed with a visit from Dan The Man himself (as seen in the image below).  He thanked us, offered to buy the banner and invited us to his victory party on election night.  Also on the scene were candidates Lisi, Vega and Murpy.

Dan, if you are reading this, the banner is $500.  Fair price for an original hand-painted design and almost $100 worth of paint and materials.  You can contact me via the contact link if you wish to purchase.  It will be available after the election as we do plan on standing out with it a couple more times.

Team Pluta Photoshop

2011/10/29 in Activism, Alex Morse, Art, Casino, Council, Elections, Holyoke, Lies, Lisi, Mayor, Pluta, pronography

Who on Team Pluta thought that this was a great idea?

(Lisi = null)

H.U.S.H member Krampus Boardway forwarded me this link, Elaine Pluta’s Community Service Page.  If this page changes between now and your reading, here is a screen shot.  Just click to view full resolution:

Once again, here is another website that I added to Archive.org. There was a snapshot from Feb 2011 but nothing since.

Why would you edit out “Lisi” from these signs rather than simply using a different image? There was no historical record of this page at Archive and Google Cache has this as current.  I wonder, was the image previously of these signs with the name included?  It would be interesting to know if the image changed after Lisi gave support to Morse.  Either way, it is an odd move.  The page simply lists Pluta’s service history so the image is not really relevant to the content…  so, any image could takes its place.  Why use an image that is obviously altered and makes a statement about Lisi?  Odd, I say.

There is one thing I regret in this election cycle.  I saw Pluta standing out on the Beech and Northampton intersections holding her sign BACKWARDS for over a minute displaying a wood stick and staples to the traffic.  I took my time to yell at her “your sign is backwards” while she cupped her ear “Huh?”.  I yelled three times before a supporter standing with her corrected it.  It was beautiful.  I wish I snapped a photo rather than heckled her.  Oh well.

The Number One Problem in Holyoke

2011/10/28 in Activism, Art, Audio, Bresnahan, Charter, Council, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Politics, pronosound

Dan Bresnahan explains the number one problem in Holyoke.  This time, in song:

Hey, I know.  It is not that great.  Just my first attempt with the samplers.

Audio from the October 20th City Council Candidate Forum

2011/10/20 in Audio, Bresnahan, Casino, Charter, Council, Development, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Jobs, Lies, Patti Devine, Politics, Press, Vega

 Audio from the October 20th City Council Candidate Forum held at Dean Tech High School.

 

The event was sparsely attended and was lacking H.U.S.H.’s favorite candidate Patti Devine.  Rumor has it that she was afraid to show up because I was recording the event and planned on editing her statements into a musical remix.  Rosado and Murphy’s main-squeeze McGee also had better things to do, but McGee was later seen in the audience during the At-Large portion of the forum. Rosado and McGee had placards with their name and empty seats.  The same should have been done for Devine, not sure why she gets special treatment here.

The format was a little odd with a different setup for the Ward versus the At-Large candidates.  The Ward candidates were able to ask the opponent a question and then have rebuttal where the At-Large were fielded questions, some repeated, asked by representatives of The Republican and El Pueblo Latino.  As a result the At-Large forum did seem to cover a lot more ground.  The issues of the night were casinos, attracting business with our tax rate and the charter question.

I do need to gripe about the audio…  next time rent some mics so that each person has one, put foam wind-screens on them and before the event explain to the candidates that they need to not touch their lips to the mic when speaking.  6″-8″ away and a normal speaking voice should be used.

If there was one clear winner here it is Gordon Alexander.  Sure, many of these folks might not have public speaking as their forte and might be nervous up there…  and certainly Jourdain, Tallman and McGiverin presented themselves very well, but of the newcomers it was Alexander that stood out.  I did speak to him after saying that I wished I lived in Ward 7 so I could vote for him.  Menwer was also a pleasant surprise.  I probably will be voting for him (and finding out who is his dentist).  If there was one person that looked like they did not belong there it was Brenna Murphy.  She appeared as if she was extremely bored.  Maybe lemon-faced is simply her normal demeanor but she does lack the charisma that sells candidates in the media – maybe she should have taken Devine’s cue and pulled a no-show…  I doubt that she won any votes with her performance.

There was a good deal of intentional and unintentional humor.  Tallman did declare that “we should not sell Holyoke short, so vote for the tall man”.  Yes, I will be voting for him and he is indeed tall.  Though, I do wish he’d invest in some pants that fit him as it was his bare shins exposed by his high-waters that kept distracting my attention.  Bresnahan went on a wonderful tangent about internal organs and sexual intercourse.  I am glad I have all that recorded, his dialog will be uploaded into my sampler this weekend.  Murphy stated that she went to college “because her parents told her to”…  obviously, she’s running for office for that very same reason.   Purcell claimed that some of the folks on stage were criminals.  He’s correct, but it was just funny to hear it said.  Vega was vague when asked about the charter question and wasted his time explaining to the audience that he did not want to tell people how to vote on the issue – thanks, we know how we are voting on the issue – we wanted to know where you stood.  Leahy expressed his love for some of the people in Holyoke, not all of them.  Fletcher claimed that the only crime to speak of at casinos is children and pets locked in cars at the parking lots?!?  Good stuff!

Listen for yourself…

 Ward Councilors:

At Large Councilors:

 

H.U.S.H in the news.

2011/10/15 in Activism, C.R.U.S.H., Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Law, Lies, Patti Devine, Politics, Press, pronography

I’d like to welcome all our readers from the Valley Advocate.

On Thursday October 13th the Valley Advocate ran this story.

Tom Vannah wrote the story based on a letter that I sent to him, which is essentially the same text of a previous post here on H.U.S.H. with the exception of the last paragraph which was replaced with this:

Personally, I am offended by CRUSH’s decision to capitulate to her bullying but that is not what is important and it is not why I write.  I am writing in hopes that this would make for a story.  I think it is indeed a good one something here about the story deserving the attention of a publication like The Advocate to give a well balanced account, something the daily newspapers do not have either the time for or interest in doing. When I talked to Mike Plaisance (the Republican reporter) I was let known that he did see the threatening email that Patti sent to the Chamber of Commerce and the Taxpayers Association.  However, the way that the Republican handled the story it only dealt with nuance and some of the drama.  It did not go into what I think is the real story which is a government official using threats and bullying to suppress legitimate public speech because it was criticism and satire directed at her.

I am pleased to see the image in print.  The story does hit to the heart of the matter but does seem to leave out a bit of detail.  We were supposed to speak about the article before it went to press.  I was away for the weekend and when Mr Vannah contacted me I was not in an environment that would have allowed discussion.  We were not able to connect when I tried to get back to him and then it was past deadline.  I did want to discuss my reasons for the image and what I thought of the C.R.U.S.H. admin peeing in their boots in the face of baseless threats, but alas, that did not happen.

I have had a number of dialogs in person, in email and on Facebook about Mr Vannah’s comments over publication and submissions at the Valley Advocate.  He says:

That said, the Valley Advocate doesn’t publish every word or image that its staff or freelance correspondents produce or that it receives from outside sources. The material that makes it into the paper each week has survived fairly rigorous scrutiny; in the end, we reject far more —endless press releases; mountains of op-ed pieces; scads of political cartoons; product pitches; a suprising number of unsolicited manuscripts and artworks from fledgling writers; staff-written pieces that need more work before they’ll see the light of day—than we accept.

I have heard people say that this is a parallel to the idea that CRUSH is a publisher or has editorial control over the content.  I don’t read it as such.  I cannot speak directly to what Mr Vannah’s intent was here but I do think that the next paragraph speaks quite clearly:

So when I heard about the troubles of Holyoke artist James Bickford and the decision by the activist group Citizens for the Revitalization and Urban Success of Holyoke (C.R.U.S.H.) to remove a series of his images from its public forum, claiming that the images constituted a form of “harrassment,” I groaned. I suspected that although Bickford’s images would fall completely under the protection of the First Amendment, they would also be highly offensive, perhaps lewd and probably gratuitous. I braced myself for the disagreeable job of defending something disagreeable.

He’s saying that the images were valid and he puts “scare quotes” around “harassment” (and later “harassing”) because they were indeed not.  The Steering Committee had a disclaimer that  Libel and Harassment were reasons to delete content.  My work was not harassment but the Steering Committee called it so to fit with the disclaimer.  They had no reason to censor.  Mr Vannah’s comments on the publishing of the story was the result of his finding humor in the images when his expectation was that C.R.U.S.H. deleted something that was offensive.

That is all for now.