You are browsing the archive for Development.

Speech from today’s anti-Walmart press conference.

2013/07/25 in Activism, Alex Morse, Capitalism, CBS3, Consume, Development, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Jobs, Mall, Masslive, Poverty, Walmart, Ward 5, WGBY, WWLP

Stop Walmart in Holyoke

 

The coalition, Stop Walmart in Holyoke, was joined by Mayor Alex Morse today to speak out against the proposed Walmart Supercenter plan for Whiting Farms Road.  A capacity crowd was there at Donahue School.  The majority being labor union folks and abutters to the site plan… but concerned citizens from all wards, business owners and a number of political leaders were in attendance.  See Masslive, WWLP, CBS3   (will update with other sources as they report on this)

The speakers were:

Mayor Alex Morse

Terri Laramee of Holyoke First, the organization of the site’s neighbors

Jason Garand, Business Manager of Carpenters Local 108

James Bickford, Spokesperson for Stop Walmart in Holyoke

Sister Kathleen Popko, President of Sisters of Providence

Here is what I delivered:

#####

I’d like to thank Mayor Alex Morse for joining us here today.  (gesture)

I hope you all don’t mind, but I am going to imagine you all naked while I do this.  (laughter, hopefully)

I speak for the coalition, Stop Walmart in Holyoke, a group of Holyoke area residents, business owners and organizational leaders with support from Holyoke First; Nueva Esperanza; Fluxmass; Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council; Sisters of St. Joseph; Sprawl-Busters; Holyoke Chapter of the ISO; United Brotherhood of Carpenters; and Western Mass. Jobs with Justice.

Proponents of the Walmart Supercenter will claim that new jobs and tax revenue for Holyoke as the primary selling points for the establishing of a store here.  This is ultimately deceiving.  While it is true that the municipal will have tax revenue added to the coffers with a Walmart; what they don’t want you to know is that there will be an incredible demand on individual tax payers.  Walmart’s success in the marketplace is mostly dependent on keeping the cost of labor lower than other large retailers.  They have the least number of employees per square foot of retail, pay low wages and maintain a large number of part time employees to avoid paying benefits.  These are jobs that keep people in poverty.  We only need to look at a recent congressional report on Walmart to see the impact down stream.  Since most Walmart employees are under-employed everyone else foots the bill for their EBT, medical and retirement.  It has been shown that the average Walmart employee costs taxpayers $6,000.00 per year…  this comes out to $900k to $1.2 million per store per year.  Again, Walmart’s success is dependent on social services taking care of their employees.  Walmart creates and perpetuates poverty.

Some criticize Walmart opposition as anti-business.  No, in fact, Walmart opposition is pro-business and pro-labor.  A new Walmart does not create new consumers.  Like I said previously, Walmart keeps labor costs extremely low.  As a result it has a competition advantage and will certainly draw customers from existing business large and small.  Their loss will force them to reduce payroll and possibly end in closure.  It will also limit new small business development in the retail sector.  Studies have shown that over time each Walmart employee ends up being a net loss of 1.4 employees in area retail labor.

Globally, Walmart is responsible for an incredible amount of sweat shop labor where human beings are considered expendable commodities like we have seen recently with its garment and textile supplier in Bangladesh.

On a national level Walmart’s negative impact is incredible.  Walmart’s expansion between 2001 and 2006 accounted for 11% of the growth of the total US trade deficit with China.  In 2000, Walmart was sued 4,851 times — about once every 2 hours.  Walmart also battled 1.6 million employees in the largest class action sex discrimination law suit ever — the potential cost at the time of $11 billion.  The Supreme Court ruling is considered controversial here as it was shot down not on the merits of the case but rather the scale, leading to individual suits instead of the class action.  The statistics do not lie… women were grossly underrepresented among managers, holding just 14% of manager roles compared with the more than 80% of lower-ranking hourly supervisor jobs.  Walmart retaliates against employees that organized for better working conditions.  The egregious business and labor practices of Walmart are alarming especially since it is the largest overall employer in the entire USA, and the biggest employer in 25 states.

One would think that such a large corporation with such amassed wealth and annual profits could do so much better for its employees.  We say that we can do better for Holyoke.

Critics of the Walmart opposition will state that lacking an alternative to Walmart is reason for Walmart to proceed.  HGE has stated that the sale is in the best interest of the rate payers – will we see a decrease in rates as a result?  In pennies?  Here’s a potential alternative: With the rising energy costs, the scheduled closure of Mt Tom power plant and the recent alarming reports of Pilgrim nuclear plant – which supplies 15% of the states electricity – shutting down periodically due to rising ocean temperatures.  Why not invite local solar experts Stiebel Eltron or Citizens Energy to survey the land for a potential solar farm?  This would be something that will benefit ratepayers for decades, much more than the one time sale of the property.

False promises and lack of an immediate alternative are not valid reasons for Holyoke to sell its soul for tax revenue burdened on the shoulders of poverty wage slave jobs.  We ask that city government – the Mayor’s Office, City Council, Fire Department, Planning Board, Redevelopment Committee and the Building Commissioner – oppose this plan and that HGE seek alternate uses for this parcel of land they have put up for sale.

Thank you.

#####

Pioneer Valley Green-Rainbow Party Resolution on Lyman Terrace

2012/07/02 in Community, Development, Gentrification, Green, Green Party, HHA, Holyoke, Lyman Terrace, Poverty, Racism, Ward 1

Pioneer Valley GRP Resolution, June 28, 2012

 

 
Whereas decent, affordable housing is essential for equitable and sustainable communities;

 
Whereas the relocation and reoccupancy plans proposed thus far for Lyman Terrace, Holyoke, are inadequate for meeting varied tenant and community needs and unfairly target and further marginalize a vulnerable population;

 
Whereas tenant and community involvement in planning has thus far been inadequate;

 
Whereas current living conditions require significant improvements; and

 
Whereas preserving and rehabilitating existing structures is more cost-effective, more environmentally responsible, and more conducive to maintaining cultural heritage and a sense of place than wholesale demolition and new construction;

 
Now be it resolved that the Pioneer Valley Green-Rainbow Party opposes the demolition and disposition of Lyman Terrace housing project and supports more inclusive processes for developing better plans.

 

Getting Up to Supercomputing Speed in Holyoke

2012/06/17 in Development, Economics, Green, Holyoke, Mailbag, MGHPCC, Press

A Report on the Holyoke Supercomputing Center

See attached  PDF:

GETTING UP TO SUPERCOMPUTING SPEED IN HOLYOKE:
A CASE STUDY OF THE SOCIOECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THE
MASSACHUSETTS GREEN HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPUTING CENTER AND AN
INQUIRY INTO THE LEVEL OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IT COULD FOSTER

Response to Mayor Morse’s Statement on Lyman Terrace

2012/05/10 in Alex Morse, Development, Gentrification, H.U.S.H., HHA, HPD, Lyman Terrace, Poverty

 

In response to Mayor Morse’s statement on Lyman Terrace, I’d like to address a few false ideas and assumptions on his part, present a better vision, and suggest some ideas towards developing a better plan to realize that vision. One characterization Morse gets right is that the issues are complex. Unfortunately, his analyses and proposed solutions do not reflect that complexity. I can’t hope to cover it all here, but I’ll try to avoid replicating the problem of glossing over important considerations, and therefore my response will not be brief. To avoid cluttering the home page, I’m putting my response to the mayor in as a first comment to this entry.

 

 

Never trust a junkie… or a politician.

2012/05/09 in Activism, Alex Morse, Development, Gentrification, HHA, Lies, Lyman Terrace, Music, Racism, Ward 1

Especially a Democrat…

Public Hearing for Lyman Street Study Committee

2012/04/25 in Activism, Development, H.U.S.H., History, Holyoke, Lyman Terrace

Fight Gentrification

Thursday, April 26th
American Legion Post 351
50 Saint Kolbe Dr.
Holyoke, MA. 01040
534-1861
6:30 p.m.

Informational hearing about the aspects of historic districts
Questions and answers
Map of area
Survey forms
Historic buildings in the area
Written statements accepted

Sponsored by the Fairfield Avenue Local Historic District Committee
Olivia Mausel- 534-4115
Sandy Parent, Wendy Weiss, Matt Chenier,
James Sutter, Peter Papineau, Charles Davignon

El Sol Latino, April 2012

2012/04/02 in Development, Gentrification, HHA, History, Holyoke, Lyman Terrace

Available online here: http://issuu.com/elsollatino

 

The main editorial in this edition sets the Lyman Terrace issue in the context of Holyoke’s history with redevelopment issues and how they’ve affected the Latino community here. The guest editorial is copied below with permission:

The great irony of the Holyoke Housing Authority (HHA) plan to demolish Lyman Terrace is that it uses the poor conditions of the development — conditions resulting from decades of neglect by that same Housing Authority — to justify demolition and privatization. In this context, it is not surprising that tenants are discontented with their housing. But is the solution to demolish housing that’s basically sound but needs significant renovation? To thrust tenants onto a shrinking affordable housing market with little hope of finding better housing at affordable prices? Or should tenants and other members of the community have been included in planning long ago, so they could work with the HHA to come up with an effective and sustainable plan to save and improve Lyman Terrace? 

We oppose the HHA’s proposed demolition of Lyman Terrace, a public housing development in Holyoke, for several reasons: residents were not sufficiently consulted, the relocation plan is inadequate, demolition without guarantee of rebuild will significantly reduce the supply of affordable housing in the city and region, demolition and rebuilding carries a higher material, energy and carbon impact than renovation, and lastly, as one of the earliest federally funded housing projects in the country, Lyman Terrace represents New Deal and working class people’s history worthy of preservation while the brick and copper exteriors contribute to downtown Holyoke’s visual sense of place. The architecturally-distinct buildings reflect a period in American history when citizens and their government provided good housing to neighbors who could not afford adequate homes on the private market. This is a noble ideal to emulate today. 

The residents of Lyman Terrace have not had effective representation, which made it impossible for them to be full participants in the process of deciding what happens to their homes. The Tenant Association (TA) at Lyman Terrace was not tenant-run. Not only were HHA property managers and staff present at all TA meetings, but they informed the TA president when and where to have those meetings. In addition, the HHA set a context where genuine input from the residents was near impossible. Both the failed HOPE VI applications and the demolition and disposition plan were presented to the tenants as inevitable. Asking tenants if they want better housing without being reasonably sure that the residents will actually get something better after demolition is unfair and coercive.            

So who are the residents of Lyman Terrace? Many are young working adults for whom housing costs exceed affordability for wages earned. Others are senior citizens or disabled. Many are young children whose schooling would be disrupted by mid-term relocation and whose daily presence playing together in the courtyards under the watchful eyes of numerous adults belies the HHA’s claims that these are “indefensible spaces.” The great majority are Latino, so any relocation plan which drives residents from their community can be seen as racist as well as gentrifying. 

Relocation shouldn’t be considered without certainty of portable Section 8 vouchers and the real ability for tenants to use them. Western Massachusetts lost hundreds of rental housing units to tornados, floods, fires, and bankruptcies while the foreclosure crisis and a weak economy added pressures to the rental market. Yet when asked, the HHA could not quantify how many eligible units will be available for relocatees. Section 8 housing choice is an empty promise if market realities mean families will be forced to leave their community whether they wish to or not. 

Similarly, luring tenants out by suggesting future return is deceptive. Low income housing has been destroyed in far greater numbers than has been rebuilt. Prior inhabitants have not been the beneficiaries of demolition and new construction. And in the case of Lyman Terrace, there is no rebuild plan yet to evaluate. 

The demolition of Lyman Terrace will be detrimental to the residents, and it contradicts an inclusive vision of downtown (re)development for the city of Holyoke. Downtown businesses depend on Lyman Terrace residents, who constitute a source of revitalization. Better property management — including renovations, maintenance and policing — would address problems for the surrounding community, erase stigma, improve quality of life for tenants, and yield economic benefits for area businesses. We all deserve better from the HHA.

There is an assumption that since there are many vacant properties in and around downtown that affordable housing will not be in danger in Holyoke. But how can we be so sure? The HHA is not making any commitment to have those 167 units replaced at the present site. If this site is lost, who is to say we will see those units replaced as affordable housing in a prime location? We would like to see all of Holyoke’s citizens able to live downtown. Demolition and privatization of Lyman Terrace would be a big step in the wrong direction. 

 

Marcella Jayne, Lyman Terrace tenant

Preston Smith, associate professor at Mt. Holyoke College

Susan Van Pelt, Holyoke resident

 

 

Holyoke Housing Authority’s Ethnic Cleansing Plan Exposed

2012/03/30 in Action, Activism, C.R.U.S.H., CBS3, Development, Gentrification, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Lisi, Lyman Terrace, Occupy, Poverty, Press, Ward 1

CBS3 covers the story here:

Rosalie Deane Executive Director HHA

Letter from Historian Bruce Laurie on Lyman Terrace

2012/03/19 in Action, Activism, Community, Development, Gentrification, H.U.S.H., Lyman Terrace, Poverty, Ward 1

Reprinted with permission:

6 March 2012

I write to associate myself with those who are seeking to preserve the Lyman Terrace Housing Project in Holyoke. I will restrict my remarks here to its preservation, leaving the question of further action for another day.

It is troubling, to say the least, that the otherwise conscientious Massachusetts Historical Commission relied upon incomplete and biased information to reach its decision against preservation. Its critics and Ms. VanPelt in particular have drawn attention to the flawed procedure and I see no need to rehearse their claims here. It is enough to observe that the project itself reflects an important moment in policy formation dating to New Deal social programming in the name of easing the plight of the working poor. The project embodied the most advanced thinking on public housing policy in the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history. It was an ingenious partnership between Federal and state government and its stands as a monument worthy of preservation. That we would opt for a different policy today is no argument for wiping out such an important emblem of our common past. By that reasoning, we would not preserve Mt. Vernon or Monticello or any other historic house.

Of course, no one of the stature of our first or third president lived at Lyman. Instead, it housed ordinary people whose labor made Holyoke a leading site of the First Industrial Revolution. In recent years, historic preservationists at the National Park Service have sought to rectify the obvious imbalance in preservation by seeking to preserve the living quarters of working people. Lowell is the best example of its enlightened policies. By preserving Lyman, the city of Holyoke would align itself with the such a sensible policy. It would also allow this generation to repay our debt to the sons and daughters of hard toil.

We historians have long sought what we call a useable past, a past that tells us who we were at a certain point in the historical continuum and what we might to do to guide us through the current day, one way or another. Lyman is a fine example of such a past. It marked a policy at once more humane and salutary than the high-rise, high-density public housing projects that succeed Lyman and that have since succumbed to the bulldozer. Lyman showed a better way. It makes no sense to erase from memory such an important structure.

Yours sincerely,

Bruce Laurie, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Testimony From Lyman Terrace

2012/03/09 in Activism, Development, Economics, H.U.S.H., Lyman Terrace, Mailbag, Politics, Poverty, Ward 1

Sylvia Robello writes to HUSH:

Sylvia Robello speaks to City Council about Lyman Terrace

I’m sick of people putting down others without knowing anything about them or where they are coming from. Not everyone that lives in Lyman Terrace is uneducated or on welfare. Many of the residents there are working individuals who pay market rate rents much as they would do in any other apartment in Holyoke or elsewhere. Despite the exsisiting deplorable conditions they choose to remain living there because they like it, the area, its proximity to many conveniences that might otherwise be unavailable to them, including transportation, health care, downtown shopping etc.

I was the 1st President of the Tenants Association at Lyman Terrace and I became a teacher. I now have a BA in education, an MA in Linguistics, a teachers state certification and a myriad of other credentials that others who did not live in a housing project and were raised in a home of their own may not have. I lived there for many years and my children were all raised there. My daughter is a probation officer in Spfld, who graduated from Mount Holyoke with a BA, Springfield College with her MA and is a home owner Holyoke. One of my sons is an licensed electrician, has his DCL trucking license, is a 5 star chef and owns his own home in 16 acres. I have another son who lives in Florida who owns 2 businesses of his own. I have another son who is a Barber. These children are all products of the projects and we are all of Hispanic ethnicity. So as you can see not all people that live in projects, especially Hispanics, are on welfare and uneducated.

The Plight of the Hispanic PR in the US is not an easy or pretty. Those who migrate here from PR come here to find better job opportunities, living conditions and further their education by giving their children the opportunities they never had just like most people who come here from other countries do. Many come here giving up everything the have, own and are familiar with thinking it would be an improvement to their lives. Instead what they find is a hostile environment that does not accept them because of the color of their skin or don’t speak the language. They can’t find jobs because of these same reasons. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the US. It has been so since 1898. They are Americans by birth. Yet they have never known what it is to be free and independent. They have always had to depend on another country or nation for support so they have an identity crisis. Many feel like they don’t know who they are or where they belong so they become transients moving constantly from place to place and never really establishing or settling down in any one place. Many keep moving back and forth from PR here, NY, Florida hoping to find a place where they are finally accepted and welcomed. Others yearn to go back to where they came from because although they did not have much especially a secure job, they did have acceptance. Ironically those of us who were born or raised here are not even accepted in PR. The consider us Americans or Newyoricans. So where do we belong.? It seems like nowhere.

Yes this is just the tip of the Iceberg. So unless you have walked in our shoes please don’t make assumptions about who or what we are. We are lot more than a lot of others who have had it all and still haven’t gotten anywhere. We have nothing and still we continue to strive to be better, to find a better way so that our children don’t have to go through all the struggles we had had to encounter. When I still had not finished my education I still managed to move forward and help all those I could in the community, helping to establish housing corporations, educating the low income sector regardless of their ethnicity, black, white or Hispanic, helping the homeless, registering people to vote, and improving my community in every way I could. So again, I implore you don’t make assumptions or take about people when you in fact have not been there and don’t know where they are coming from, where they have been or where they are going. Especially when you yourself have done nothing to help your fellow man. I’m tired of it.

Valencia Miller 25 West Ct

How You Can Help Lyman Terrace

2012/03/03 in Activism, Capitalism, Development, Economics, Gentrification, Holyoke, Lies, Lyman Terrace, Occupy, Poverty, Ward 1

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD HAS BEEN EXTENDED

ANOTHER TWELVE DAYS UNTIL 4pm 3/23/2012.

A vital community.

As some of you may have heard, the Holyoke Housing Authority is planning to demolish Lyman Terrace through a HUD program called Demolition Disposition.

There are many reasons we should be organizing in opposition to this:

1. The land will be sold to private developers, NOT used to rehouse those displaced (privatization of public land).

2. Lyman Terrace is historical, it is the fifth oldest housing project in the US, the oldest one still in use. It has fall out shelters. Factory workers at the mills used to live here. It is a piece of Proletariat history that shouldn’t be undervalued.  For some historical background see here.

3. The relocation plan found in City Hall was woefully inadequate and said there would be no additional section 8 vouchers to help relocate “displacees”.

4. Tenants have been inadequately informed about this plan. Many have been told that they would be guaranteed section 8 vouchers.  There is no guarantee.

5. There does not exist a realistic study as to the cost-benefit of demolishing, disposing of property and relocating tenants versus maintaining Lyman Terrace. The plan appears to have one and only one purpose: To rid Holyoke of near 200 families and shift the burden from Holyoke Housing Authority to the state.

6. The Holyoke Housing Authority is planning on using the manipulative “cash for keys” (one time $5250.00) method to motivate and strip tenants of their legal rights to fight eviction in court by having them sign them away for cash.

7. The lack of section 8 vouchers, lack of secion 8 vacancies and the status of the displaced tenants (housing discrimination based on race, employment, disability, credit viability) will land a large number of the folks in hotel shelters or worse, homeless.

8. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors concerning the state of these structures.  In a recent city council public commentary a developer and private housing manager weighed in with stories of much older and larger buildings in Holyoke that have been restored after decades of neglect and vacancy as a testament to the viability of Lyman Terrace – especially since there have been some recent improvements, repairs, new roofs.  Visual inspection of a number of units show well functioning homes.  What has not been repaired falls on the Holyoke Housing Authority’s neglect since their plan has been for some time to get rid of their ”problem”.  With over $1.5 million budgeted to demolish (probably not near enough to do so) why not initiate a plan to restore these units one by one while seeking other grants to continue over time?  Or, a myriad of other options rather than demolish and leave an empty lot?  Holyoke has plenty of empty lots.

————– HOW YOU CAN HELP LYMAN TERRACE ————–

3/23/2012 3/7/2012 is the last date to submit public comment to the Office of Community Development.

PLEASE SUBMIT A PUBLIC COMMENT!

Public comments must pertain to 3 topics:

1. Historical significance of the buildings.
2. Failures in the Displacement-relocation plan.
3. Did the Holyoke Housing Authority publicize the plan Adequately?

Mail or hand deliver the Office of Community Development:

City of Holyoke
Office for Community Development
City Hall Annex Room 400
Holyoke, MA 01040

fax to: 413-322-5611
or email to: zoellera@ci.holyoke.ma.us

More general comments can also be sent directly to HUD (same deadline):

Bob Cwieka
Office of Public Housing Dep. of HUD
Thomas P. O’Neil Jr. Federal Building
10 Causeway St 3rd floor
Boston MA 0222-1092

or email at: robert_p._cwieka@hud.gov

It is most important that you contact the Office of Community Development and HUD but it does not need to stop there.  You can also cc: or send your comments to the mayor:

Mayor Alex Morse: morsea@ci.holyoke.ma.us or 413-322-5510

You can also cc: or send your comments to your city councilor, find yours here on the Holyoke City website.

The Shock Doctrine in Holyoke

2012/02/20 in Activism, Alex Morse, Capitalism, Development, Economics, Gentrification, H.U.S.H., History, Holyoke, Lies, Lyman Terrace, Poverty, Ward 1

The Razing of Lyman Terrace

Dignity, an excellent concept.

Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. — Milton Friedman (Nobel Laureate Economist and minion of Satan)

Access.

In her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism Naomi Klein coined the term “disaster capitalism” – a concept that had existed for quite some time yet to be named. The idea being that a population can be unwittingly subdued via trauma – real or perceived – and as a result enslaved, robbed or otherwise manipulated to the profit of some external entity that is the architect of said doctrine. We’ve seen it in Southeast Asia when residents of a fishing village are relocated by the government after a tsunami and upon returning to homes that their families had lived for generations instead find a Western-owned resort hotel, their land appropriated and new “opportunities” working in laundry rooms servicing the new tourist trade. Also in 1970′s Chile where our CIA financed a police state which finally bent the will of the people to accept our brand of corporate capitalism (Obama is now doing similar in Honduras under auspices of the War on Drugs). Or in New Orleans post-Katrina when what was once public housing – undamaged by the storm – privatized and sold to the highest bidder. We can also see it in our Global-Imperial Neoliberal campaigns of “liberation” where we prop up and finance despotic regimes like the Taliban or Saddam for a couple decades then wage war on the people in order to give hand outs to the military industrial and then the contractors to rebuild what we destroyed – highest bidder in these cases are decided by campaign contributions to whichever party is in power at that time . It is mostly effective… and quite pervasive in the Post-9-11 world. The “War on Terror” being the trump suit on a myriad of distasteful policies that have robbed us of civil rights.

We are here to help you.

Well, today I witnessed it firsthand right here in Holyoke. Here’s how it works: Some years ago the Holyoke Housing Authority decides that an entire neighborhood of public housing is a “problem”.  As a result of that decision the plan is to demolish the existing project of 167 occupied units to build new ones – convincing the tenants that they have funds to do this and that while the reconstruction happens tenants will be relocated temporarily. Time goes by… Since the plan is to demolish the buildings there is no reason for upkeep. Neglect becomes routine and situations worsen – the DPW is even avoiding trash pickup. Housing Authority people come by and take some ugly pictures of what they created to send to HUD with no real structural evaluation, analysis or comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of renovation/rehabilitation in comparission to demolition. On top of that they claim that there is “No Significant Impact on the Human Environment”. The solution – raze all existing structures, sell the acreage to the highest bidder and give the tenants Section 8 vouchers with “you are free to go now, good luck and goodbye”. Is it possible to add that many people to the rental market all at once? Is there not human impact to destroying a neighborhood? What about elderly and disabled that have established routines downtown with where they shop, visit their doctor and public transportation at Veteran’s park? What if these elderly and disabled people are forced into isolated areas?  In the end it all reeks of racism, gentrification and another example of privatization that which was public.  They are poor and dark skinned – there is no significant human impact if you don’t treat the people like humans to begin with.

Human Environment.

I was there today collecting signatures for a petition. I talked to near one hundred people. There was a handful of folks that claimed that they did not care, that they thought that the place should be demolished… but overwhelmingly the opinion was that they liked living there and had community with others in this neighborhood. Many stated that they wanted to stay even though things were not kept up – taking it upon themselves to renovate spaces. I entered a number of units and saw homes with families… well cared for and functioning households that were maintained by the tenants.  Regardless of the opinion on the Housing Authority decision, the overwhelming feeling from these people was that they were being left out of the process.  As far as the claim that these spaces were “obsolete as to their physical condition”, this is a complete smoke and mirrors.  Go and see for yourself and talk to some of the tenants.

A number of tenants said that they were coming to the city council chambers tomorrow night, 7pm.  Be there.

Humans, some newer.

Self portrait with decay.

 Links to the HHA Letter of Intent:

http://hush.fluxmass.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/HHA-Notice-of-Intent-for-Lyman-Terrace.pdf

In Spanish:

http://hush.fluxmass.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/HHA-Notice-of-Intent-for-Lyman-Terrace_esp.pdf

Ward 1 City Councilor: Gladys Lebron-Martinez, 224 Elm St. 413-535-8507

City of Holyoke Office for Community Development, City Hall Annex Room 400, Holyoke, MA 01040 by first class mail, by fax to 413-322-5611 or email to zoellera@ci.holyoke.ma.us

Mayor Alex Morse: morsea@ci.holyoke.ma.us or 413-322-5510

Please also submit a copy of your comments to the Holyoke Historic Commission and to HUD:

http://www.holyoke.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=115&Itemid=205

http://www.hud.gov/local/index.cfm?state=ma&topic=offices

Some history of this practice in Holyoke:

http://hush.fluxmass.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/RamosConsentDecree.pdf

Draft City Council Resolution:

Holyoke City Council

February 21, 2012 Meeting

“Supporting Responsible Downtown Economic and Community Development at Lyman Terrace”

WHEREAS, The Holyoke Housing Authority seeks demolition and disposition of Lyman Terrace, one of the earliest public housing projects in the country; and

WHEREAS, Lyman Terrace, built in 1938-1939, comprises 167 units in eighteen buildings with exteriors of brick and copper on tree-lined streets in the heart of downtown. It also features a community center, a community garden, and a Boys and Girls Club; and

WHEREAS, Holyoke’s overall population remained stable over the last decade, Ward 1 (where Lyman Terrace is located) has continued to experience significant losses; the city should now be working towards population retention and growth, not further loss; and

WHEREAS, the demolition of Lyman Terrace would be a destruction of downtown Holyoke’s architectural heritage, visual sense of place, working class history and affordable housing at a time when Holyoke’s revitalization depends on preserving, rehabilitating, and capitalizing on our historic architecture and infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, the demolition of any city buildings should be premised on a structural evaluation, review and forensic analysis for commercial, industrial and residential structures as well as a full and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of renovation/rehabilitation in comparission to demolition; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has not seen or been made aware of any such analyses for the Lyman Terrace project; and

WHEREAS, the reported presence of social problems such as crime, drugs, violence, or prostitution in the area of Lyman Terrace are artifacts of concentrated poverty that is completely independent of the buildings’ architectural design and condition and do not merit reasons for demolition; and

WHEREAS, if improving the living conditions of the current residents of Lyman Terrace is the purpose for requesting Urban Renewal funds from the United States Office for Housing and Urban Development (HUD), then a comprehensive relocation plan that is based on a thorough understanding of the current residents’ needs and demands should be included in the funding request; and

WHEREAS, such a relocation plan is blatantly absent from the current environmental review (study) that purports to have looked at the project’s “effects on people and community and determined that the project will have no significant impact.”

NOW, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council formally go on record in opposition to the demolition of Lyman Terrace; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City Council submit a written letter to the Office for Community Development in opposition to the claim that the project will have “no significant impact on the human environment;” and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in an effort to increase transparency,the City Council invite the Mayor, Holyoke Housing Authority, Office of Community Development, Holyoke Historic Commission, and Holyoke Redevelopment Authority to discuss the matter further with the council.

“No Significant Impact on the Human Environment”

2012/02/18 in Activism, Capitalism, Development, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Lies, Lyman Terrace, Poverty, Ward 1

 
 
 

There’s “no significant impact on the human environment” when 5.5 developed and inhabited urban acres are leveled? When architectural heritage, a community’s visual sense of place and working class people’s history gets erased? When 167 low income housing units in the heart of downtown are razed? When families leave our downtown? Really, Holyoke?!!! If there’s “no impact,” then I’d prefer to keep it, thanks.

 

What happened to preserving and capitalizing on our incredible downtown brick structures to promote revitalization? What happened to fostering a sense of community and working towards inclusive redevelopment? I reject the idea that we must accept a false choice between safe, decent housing and historic preservation. These are lovely buildings with potential for thoughtful rehabilitation, and their destruction will be a loss that can never truly be replaced.

 

 I learned about the planned demolition and disposition in a Holyoke Redevelopment Authority meeting (which I’d spent about 40 minutes finding because it had been relocated, and I was sent on wild goose chases to get there). The city’s planning department asked the HRA to put Lyman Terrace back in the Urban Renewal Plan as a lot for private redevelopment. By sheer coincidence, Greg Saulmon was just then writing a beautiful piece about Lyman Terrace, which can be read here: http://birdsdowntown.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/hawks-housing-and-the-fate-of-holyokes-lyman-terrace/

 

From the Holyoke Housing Authority Notice of Finding of No Significant Impact and Notice of Intent to Request Approval of Property Demolition and Disposition for Lyman Terrace Housing Complex (dated February 17, 2012): “The City of Holyoke has determined that the project [the demolition and disposition of Lyman Terrace] will have no significant impact on the human environment….Any individual, group, or agency may submit written comments…to the City of Holyoke Office for Community Development, City Hall Annex Room 400, Holyoke, MA 01040 by first class mail, by fax to 413-322-5611 or email to zoellera@ci.holyoke.ma.us. All comments received by March 7, 2012 will be considered by the Holyoke Housing Authority and the City of Holyoke prior to submission of a request for release of funds. Comments should specify which Notice they are addressing. All commenters should verify receipt of their comments.”

 

 Please also submit a copy of your comments to the Holyoke Historic Commission and to HUD:

http://www.holyoke.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=115&Itemid=205

http://www.hud.gov/local/index.cfm?state=ma&topic=offices

 

 It ain’t over til it’s over…

 

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

Why Socialism?

2011/11/07 in Capitalism, Development, Economics, Occupy, Politics, Socialism

Why Socialism?

(originally published in National Review May 1949)

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.