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Happy New Year!
Transcript of Alex Morse’s Inaugural Address:
My fellow citizens of Holyoke:
I stand before you today grateful for the trust you have placed in me and humbled by the scale of the task before us. I’d like to express my undying gratitude, also, to my family and friends who have encouraged me every step of this journey.
Today marks a turning of the page on the old ways of doing politics in this city. It has been many years since Holyoke has stood at the threshold of such transformation; and I, as your mayor, am honored to help shape Holyoke’s future with you. The time for petty obstructions to progress is over. The time for waiting is past; the time for renewing our highest ideals and for remembering our better history is now. When I look at Holyoke today, I see what our Holyoke forebears saw when they created the Paper City of the World: a city of limitless possibility.
We have all heard those who say that Holyoke’s best days are long past. We have heard that Holyoke’s best bet is for us to just settle, and to resign ourselves to a future that is beneath our highest aspirations. For far too long, this narrative has pervaded this city and the morale of its people; too many have internalized these notions as true, as somehow inescapable realities of the Holyoke experience. As a result, many of Holyoke’s citizens have been disheartened and discouraged; too many have been overwhelmed by the frustration of seeing their best efforts and hopes for Holyoke fail to result in real, substantive progress.
Now, I understand the magnitude of the many challenges before us, and I am mindful of my own limitations to remedy them. But I also understand that the days of resignation are over. In November’s election, the citizens of Holyoke made their voices heard; and what those voices joined together to proclaim was that this election was – emphatically – about the future of the city of Holyoke. The voters rejected the gridlock and stagnation of the past. Today, we rededicate ourselves to the betterment of this community. We will not achieve every goal we desire in just one election or even one mayoral term. But I have no doubt that we will meet these challenges – boldly, fearlessly, and with the proud, fighting spirit that defines our people.
Throughout my time in this city, I have seen this spirit made manifest in the lives of ordinary citizens every day – people who often go unnoticed, but who contribute to our community in countless ways. And over the past year, as a candidate, seeing this spirit has never ceased to move me.
I saw it in the countless folks who stopped by headquarters, offering their help in myriad, small ways – people with their own busy lives who nonetheless sought to give support in whatever ways they could.
I saw it in the elderly man I met in the Flats – a man who could not speak a word of English, but who registered to vote for the first time in his life.
I saw it in the young kids – kids too young to even vote – who were enthused and impassioned about the capacity of our political process.
I saw it in a conversation I had with a woman in Elmwood Towers, in which she reminisced fondly about her days growing up in Holyoke, and who felt hopeful about the city’s future.
And I saw it in a young couple I met while door-knocking – a couple that had just moved in and that, despite the prevailing stigmas about their new hometown, were overwhelmed by the sense of community and belonging they had already begun to feel.
My experience on the campaign reaffirmed my deeply held belief that Holyoke’s greatest asset is, and has always been its people. And that Holyoke’s citizens reflect both diversity and a shared destiny, an overarching sense of common purpose. As I stand before you today, I do not shrink from the tasks before us because I know these folks and each and every one of you will be with me every step of the way.
Let us guarantee for our children the right to a sound education, one that will prepare them to compete in a 21st century economy and to contribute meaningfully to our society. I stand before you today because of the education I received in the Holyoke public schools. I am a product of Holyoke schools from pre-school through my graduation at Holyoke High. My experience taught me that it truly takes a village to raise a child. And that, had it not been for the people who took responsibility for my education, I would not be here today. It is time to restore that sense of responsibility. It is time for us to remember the common stake we have in one another, and that we must be responsible for all of Holyoke’s children, regardless of what they look like or what neighborhood they’re from. I know this is possible because I’ve lived it. And when I look at my parents here today, I know that they never would have imagined that their child would one day be their city’s mayor.
Next, let us lay the foundation for economic growth that can be sustained over the long-term and that gives our youth good reason to stay and work in Holyoke. Because, let’s be honest: what use will a good education be if our kids then find nowhere to work and contribute? Just as our predecessors saw in Holyoke everything they needed for the creation of the Paper City, I now see everything we need to become the Digital City, and for an economy based on art, innovation, and technology. The high tech computing center will be completed this year. And already, businesses are showing an interest in relocating to our community. For art and innovation, we need look no further than the talented folks already in this city, who need only be supported. Our people need a more conducive environment to create and imagine new ideas. It is time to eradicate the myth that people don’t want to work, and instead, give them good reason to work, by providing sound opportunities for the future.
Necessarily connected to fixing our education system and cultivating economic development is the task of keeping our streets safe. We know that if kids have productive things to do, and meaningful opportunities, we can prevent them from seeking their livelihoods in crime. Looking at community safety requires a holistic approach, and we all know that if we foster a sense of community and reinforce the stake we all have in one another’s lives, our city will be safer. But that requires time and the laying of firm foundations. Right now, we must begin to restore the relationship between our distinguished police officers and our communities. We must bolster neighborhood watch programs, increase bike and foot patrol, and provide common folks with a voice in providing recommendations to the police department. I will work very closely with both the fire department and the police department to make sure we come up with common sense approaches to keeping our people safe. Through these steps, I hope to rebrand Holyoke’s image and to make our city an appealing place for businesses and visitors.
As we do these things – improve education, foster economic development, and ensure public safety – let our guiding light be a love for this city. Let us remember that we all want what’s best for our hometown. And that in no other city in this nation are the people more considerate, generous, and compassionate. We hold values that are not subject to the changing winds of time; they endure and continue to define us. Our resilience. Our pride. Our concern for the plight of others. The belief that when hardship befalls one of us, it affects us all; that your child’s education matters just as much as somebody else’s child’s, or as much as my niece’s and nephew’s; that public safety in our downtown matters as much to residents of Ward Seven as it does to residents of Ward One. As Holyokers, we recognize that we cannot walk alone. I know there are many whose votes I have not yet earned; and that, despite our best efforts, we will not always agree with one another. But I also know that we don’t need to see eye-to-eye to walk hand-in-hand; and that we are never stronger than when we are united.
The work begins today. And we begin our work knowing that we are part of a process that is larger than ourselves, and that will continue long after we’re gone. Before us is the opportunity to shape this city’s future for generations to come. Let us seize this moment. Let this term be remembered as the time Holyoke began to make inroads in its longstanding challenges, and paved the way for a safer, more just, and decent community to unfold – one that is worthy of its proud citizens. Lest we forget, we are Holyoke. As long as we remember that, there is no way we can fail.
Thank you, Holyoke.
The Halos and Horns edition gives Patti Devine her second (or third?) set of horns; this time for her bullying of CRUSH to censor my work.
Thanks to the Advocate for your continued support of Holyoke and your stand-up defense of free expression.
…and special thanks to Patti. What would we do without a nemesis? I am indeed somewhat sad that you lost. You were inspiration. Most of all, thank you for coining the term ‘pronography‘. That was brilliant. I hope you have a happy New Year.
For those arriving for the first time here is the back story:
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.
Oh, What A Night!
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)
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
(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.)
Gordon Alexander (Ward 7)
LEANING OPPOSED (SERIOUS RESERVATIONS OR TALKING SHIT?):
Industria Et Copia
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!
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.
Who on Team Pluta thought that this was a great idea?
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:
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.
One Ring To Rule Them All
Everyone looked sharp last night. Both Pluta and Plaisance were sporting new hairdos. Though, it was odd to see that Pluta dyed her hair to match Morse’s color? I was told that this was this was Nelson Roman’s decision. Bad call, dude. Also, Elaine walked in wearing this leopard fur collared coat. She looked fabulous but it was slightly over the top… something that I’d expect to see worn at a five-star resort rather than the sober event that is a political debate. Morse did wear a great tie. I must admit, I lament the fall of Gaddafi for one very good reason… they have returned to the pre-1969 and post-colonization flag. I think most flags to be ugly and too busy. The Libyan flag of recent times was an amazing austere solid field of green, my favorite color… I think that everyone presented themselves very well with their answers. Both Pluta and Morse have run good campaigns with the exception of a few wrinkles on Pluta’s part with the “agenda money”, which was mostly addressed in this debate.
I have got to fault Plaisance on a few of his questions. At first I thought he was biased towards Pluta but then it became clear that he’s biased to sensationalism. First he twists words from Morse’s campaign about what Morse will bring to the office of mayor and that if he is bringing those things does that not imply that she is lacking them? A negative campaign does attack the other player, but he’s really speaking the truth here – and mostly about himself. Let’s be honest here… If you watch Pluta she’s not at all energetic. She shuffles about like zombie, uses almost no body-language and when she tries to speak with emotion she sounds all monotone like Donald Duck. As far as vision, we can all have different opinions about a casino… Pluta has been a strong supporter of Holyoke as a host city, lobbied for us in Boston and received campaign contributions from those involved. Then she praises Taco Bell? If this is part of her vision, then I must say it is indeed lacking. The idea that we must base success, jobs and tax revenue on vice and fast food is absurd. Sure, gambling should be legal, but I’d prefer back room and bar gambling to some billion dollar monument to sickness. Resources can be much better spent. The new legislation that Deval will sign into law is several steps backwards for our great state. Then, this troll hunter goes on to bring up Morse’s age. Has this not already been beaten to death and deemed a non-issue? He’s running a solid professional campaign, he’s serious and obviously he has what it takes. Could we not have asked questions about issues, ideas and leadership rather than this bullshit? Maybe if that were the case those that may have doubts about him would learn more than directly addressing the prejudice. We all know how old he is. Plaisance did take his turn with Pluta, asking her about her claim of having “the fight of her political life” and why does Morse “come out of nowhere” as a serious challenge to her position? It would have been much more useful to those witnessing the debate to get beyond the tabloid nonsense and instead to issues in Holyoke . These questions really did not cover any new ground for most of those in attendance and were a serious waste of time.
I don’t dislike Pluta. I just don’t think the results match her claims. I’ve witnessed much poor communication and bad ideas come from her in a brief two years. I do feel some sort of pity for her, I feel that she wants to do good for the city, but honestly, she does not have what it takes and the whole casino issue is a major flaw. I also think that she did not run an honest campaign at times. Those several different letters that went out concerning “agenda” and “out of town money” were downright sleazy fear-mongering. Sure… if I was watching this campaign from afar and I was not connected to the city or its politics I might actually donate to someone like Alex because it is downright inspiring. Speaking of good ideas and the digital age I do stuff like this all the time with organizations like Kickstarter, Kiva and various activist groups – I give more money out of town and out of the country than I do locally. Good ideas and progress are just that… so it really is no matter where they are happening… but of course, when hits home like we see here it is really wonderful.
I consider this election over. Morse is going to win. I had my doubts at first but there really is no way that the majority of Holyoke is that dim that they would agree that things are on the right path or that Elaine has proven herself thus far. It really has been a long time. We need some real leadership now. (and responsible media in the form of a daily newspaper)
Listen for yourself:
As mentioned in a previous post Dean Nimmer organized a meeting with Holyoke artists to discuss the city’s commitment to the arts and the possibilities of a “SOHO effect” of revitalization via the arts here in our city. Alex Morse did seem to say what the group wanted to hear and he appears to have an understanding of the importance of an art community to urban success from his work in downtown Providence RI; a city that has seen much of its revival via public art and projects like AS220. From my perspective, the group that was in that room witnessing tonight’s event makes up one of the cities greatest assets. These folks have invested a lot of resources and sweat equity into the development of a downtown destination for artist in work spaces and for the public with open studios and galley / performance events. It only makes sense that the city should work with a group that has had such great results with their successful DIY efforts at making Holyoke a cultural destination.
Full Audio of the event.
Thanks to Dean for organizing, thanks to Scott for use of the space and thanks to Alex for being there.
On Sunday October 30 at 6 pm the forum will conclude with a visit from Mayor Elaine Pluta
Audio quality is not the best… there was no PA or audience mics and some environmental noise that needed removal. I did the best I could with my field recorder and software – sound improves a lot after the heating system in the room shuts off.