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My response to Councilor Chateauneuf

2016/02/02 in Absurd, Chateauneuf, City Council, Civil Rights, Classism, Holyoke, Lawsuit, Masslive, Mike Plaisance, pronography

UPDATE: POST NOW INCLUDES THE INCRIMINATING PHOTOS / VIDEOS BELOW MY RESPONSE

One of the offensive images.

Sent to Mike Plaisance on 02/01/2016 in response to the story he was drafting which can now be found posted here.

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This is all ridiculous, but I do want to thank Councilor Chateauneuf for creating such spectacularly absurd political theater here. Very well done; and I do hope that it may it come back to bite you next election cycle. This all reminds me of another councilor who- when upset with a PhotoShop I created portraying her as “The Joker”- (as you surely have seen many times over with elected officials at all levels) went on a public tirade and abused assets like email lists to smear me for poking fun at her. Well, that only ended up with an at-large councilor that normally won in the top five of eight seats falling off the map that next election. And this really is what this is all about here – not just Councilor Chateauneuf. I heard it once from Councilor Chateauneuf in the courtroom, and again in a conversation with Lt. James Albert, “you harass people” and “he has gone after several councilors”, etc. Yes, I lampoon, poke fun at and have exposed crimes and misdeeds of several local politicians – and this has contributed to at least three of them losing election. This was all via a long tradition of free and political speech in this country – making fun of politicians is as American as apple pie, racism and police brutality. And these pols all should have lost because they were clearly not suited for the post. Public criticism is a concern for people like Councilor Chateauneuf; and it is her lack of understanding of the Bill of Rights and civics that shall be her undoing.

Some may wonder why I went after Councilor Chateauneuf and Nick’s Nest. Well, there are several reasons. First, the long history of Holyoke electing unqualified political hacks that get elected on name recognition only or for their connection to certain cliques in the city. There are several on the City Council at this moment. I heard a number of people say that she won because she “saved Nick’s Nest”. No, she bought an established successful business and did not fundamentally change what was was already a formula that worked. This does not really take any sort of savvy, certainly does not amount to a “saving” and not qualification one for office. Second, she does nothing on council. Often when she does speak she frames it in her experience at Nick’s Nest as if that place is a barometer for all things Holyoke – it is not. In that, she opposed the meals tax – an order that I supported –and similar such revenue programs have been successfully implemented in neighboring cities and towns and will provide our city with much needed tax revenue. Third, she supported an anti-panhandling ordinance in Holyoke. This is another attempt of hers to quell free speech. Any lawmaker that is paying attention should know that anti-panhandling ordinances have been shut down in at least three other Massachusetts cities after costly ACLU lawsuits. Not only that, she suggested that if we could not create an ordinance that we should find a way to shame them. The council, which is mostly white, already does not represent the 48% Latino population – now here we have classist comments like hers while near one third of the population lives below the poverty line. This is not acceptable. Lastly, Nick’s Nest is gross and the describing a restaurant on the website and in commercials as “good for kids”, a restaurant that does not sell a single healthy item on its menu, is indeed false advertising.

As far as her claims of sexual harassment: Councilor Chateauneuf has brought me to court three times. Twice for show of cause hearings and once for a no-contact / no-harass order. She lost in all three. The Honorable Maureen Walsh said it best: “I can think of a lot of things that I could say to describe Mr. Bickford’s work here, but one of them is not harassment.” Not harassment and clearly not sexual harassment. In the show of cause hearings the magistrate compared my creating of memes to those that have flooded review websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor over the political positions made by private businesses. We have all seen this, a wedding cake baker refuses to service gay marriages or a business claims to not serve Muslims and they get thousands of negative reviews in response. Also, I am not alone in targeting Nick’s Nest: there were others that gave Nick’s Nest one star reviews due to her politics. In forums and on Twitter one Holyoke citizen stated that they were going to picket her restaurant (on public property, the sidewalk across the street) over her classist comments – and in Councilor Chateauneuf‘s scorn she sent him a preemptive no-trespass order. Also, Councilor Chateauneuf said it herself, “a hot dog that looked like a penis”. Yes, hot dogs are made with lips and buttholes, do indeed look phallic and jokes are often made about “wieners”. Pointing that out is not “sexual” unless the context is clearly a sex act or the person viewing the image has some sado-sexual fixation. If the fact that you sell hot dogs bothers you that much you are in the wrong business. If political commentary and lampooning related to your political post results in your seeking to suppress free speech then you are again in the wrong business.

As far as your request that I be removed from posts in the city; from unpaid, volunteer positions on understaffed committees where I can provide valuable work (Holyoke Local Cultural Council, Cable Advisory Board and Holyoke Creative Arts Center) – Well, this plays into another one of your political games. We all know you do not support our Mayor and you’d love to put him in a pickle like you are trying to here. The problem is that you are so out of touch. My service on the Holyoke Local Cultural Council ended and while I could have re-upped I decided not to as I am too busy with other projects. The Cable Advisory Board was created to negotiate the new contract with Comcast and technically dissolved after we did so two and a half years ago. The Holyoke Creative Arts Center is a non-profit in the city, is not a municipal entity and the Mayor does not make appointments.

I already have taken the first steps to suing HPD and the city over Councilor Chateauneuf‘s use of the police as an armed enforcement wing of her campaign. I will also be going to the State Ethics Committee with a similar complaint. Your press conference and call for my removal from posts only adds to my case. Thank you.

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One thing that I left out, that was mentioned by her was the fact that I did send an email before this all escalated.  It was a polite and reasonable email explaining my concerns about the panhandling ordinance and her sending the HPD to my home for what amounted to three images posted to FB, one attached to a negative review of Nick’s Nest.   I am her constituent and she failed to respond – which should be her duty to do so.  Had she responded this may not have escalated.

Councilor Chateauneuf claims these images / videos to be “sexual” in nature.  Please review.  In her letter to the Mayor she cites:

sexy tube meat

1.

sad hot dogs

This is actually a vintage WTF internet image. I have no idea what is happening here and I am not aware of there ever being any explanation for this image. Hot or not?

2. 

When this one was presented in the courtroom I said: "yeah, I made this, this one is my favorite." Hot or not?

3. 

 

This is a video from a Filipino band called “Hot Dog”.  That is a tongue coming out of the radio (not a jukebox) on the album cover.  Councilor Chateauneuf is the one that sees something else.  Yeah, it does kinda look like like a penis now that she mentions it, but it is also clearly not.  Hot or not?

Additionally, Western Mass News felt the need to censor this image. Why? Is it indeed lewd or are they trying to make it appear that way for the folks that would only see the edited version? And why censor the text? So that people could not search for the original? It makes no sense, that is clearly an anthropomorphic radio sticking its tongue out.

 4.

pigbuttholes

Crude? Yes. Sexual? No. Hot or not?

5.

cyriak?

This is a still from a gif (not a Vine as was suggested). It reminds me of a video from cyriak ( https://www.youtube.com/user/cyriak/videos ). It is strange. Not at all sexual. It is also not a hot dog. Rather, it appears to be a popsicle. Hot or not?

These images and videos are clearly not sexual… unless, as I stated above, you have some sado-sexual fixation with tube meat.  Her accusations are nothing but surreal and the fact that her attorney would come out and make statements like he did on television is absolutely bizarre.  Also, Councilor Chateauneuf and her attorney make claims about children viewing such images on Facebook.  Hello, forget the fact that these images are not “sexual” as you suggest, please remember that Facebook is 13+.

Lastly, the Mayor’s response to Councilor Chateauneuf’s requests is nothing short of an “FU”:

Important issues in Holyoke?  How about protecting free speech Councilor Chateauneuf’?  That’s such an important issue that it is #1 in the Bill of Rights.  You do not send the police to people’s homes over silly posts on Facebook.  Unless you want us to instead embrace fascism?  Looking at the dialog in the national election I guess I should not be surprised here.  .

 

Bresnahan Trifecta of Intolerance

2015/10/05 in Ableism, Absurd, Ageism, Bresnahan, City Council, Elections, Facebook, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Sexism

I am the cartoon character of an asshole.

Last year about this time I ran into Dan Bresnahan at a bar… well, to be more specific, I was seen at a bar and someone summoned him to me – probably via txt message.  I knew he arrived when I felt someone actually leaning upon me. I looked to my left and there he was, actually fully invading my space with his body and nearly pushing me off my seat.  With his face about four inches from mine and breathing his sour breath he accused me of being “obsessed with him” and he actually threatened me with violence.  After I told him “no. not just you, I will go after any person that does not represent me or the best interests of the community – you are a problem, you are not very smart and you do absolutely nothing positive in your role as councilor” he then asked me “do you want to take this outside?”  I was in awe.  I knew that this man-child had zero filter and that he thought that he could do no wrong, but here he was, an elected official actually challenging a constituent to a fight.  I said “did you just challenge me to a fight?” he said “Yup”. I said “You are absurd” and walked out of the place.  I know, it sounds unbelievable, but this is Breezy D and that really did happen.

How do I know that he is the man that he is?  Well, first through observation of his grandstanding nonsense that he spews ad nauseam when given the opportunity to speak in council – as well, how he votes and obviously via behavior like described above.   I have also known this guy since he was nineteen years old.  I recognized him as a miscreant back then.  As a public servant he’s been involved in some seriously messed up situations that prove that he’s not fit for leadership.  Two situations revealed to me just very recently.  Of course we all remember the time in October 2013 when he professed for all to hear that his fellow city councilor became pregnant and then failed to sexually stimulate him like most pregnant women do.  Prior to Breezy’s tenure as a member of city council he was Director of the Holyoke Board of Health (zero qualifications, and forced to resign).  I have leaned that there are two different circumstances where there was a lawsuit and a union grievance over his discriminating against people based on age.  I have filed an FOIA request for info related to these cases, at least one was a monetary suit and the person was given a job where Breezy would not be their superior.  I was going to wait for all the details to even begin to mention this case but I write about this now to put in context with this post that has been going viral on Facebook today:

Someone let this guy be in charge of children? What were they thinking?

That’s right…  sexism creating an unsafe environment for women in the employ of the municipal, ageism resulting in discrimination lawsuits and now ableism with his failing to allow a child with autism to participate in a pee-wee soccer league where all kids should be given a chance.  If you cannot read that mother’s lament and not feel utterly heartbroken for that child or not asking “what kind of monster is this guy?” then there’s something wrong with you too.

On the bright side, one of the shares of this story on social media had tagged the Holyoke Youth Soccer League.  They responded:

 

Well, that is a relief.  It is my hope that this will be Breezy’s October Surprise that will wake folks up to what a douchebag he is – there are a lot of people running that I would rather see take his seat.  But at the very least we can hope that he will be removed from all opportunities where he could abuse children.

 

 

 

A New Direction

2015/08/07 in Bordas, Bresnahan, Elections, Franco, FrannyO, Holyoke, Mailbag, Mayor, Sexism

This is why we need feminism.

It is campaign season in Holyoke and as candidates open their mouths it becomes very apparent that one cannot swing a dead cat in this city without hitting a misogynist.

Hot on the heels of the long overdue sensitivity training that was scheduled in response to the notorious hot mics incident that exposed two seated councilors as a threat to their female counterparts we have Mike Franco stepping up to the plate with his accusation of the training being “forced and potentially iron-fisted indoctrination”, then calling “blasphemy” on Councilor Jossie Valentin’s use of the War Memorial building to host The Vagina Monologues. Is Franco is completely oblivious to the fact that some veterans do have vaginas or that there is rampant sexual abuse in the military that administration seems unwilling to address? It appears so. Has Franco actually seen a vagina in real life since becoming a “Men’s Rights Activist” a decade ago? My sources say no. Continuing in theme, now comes Kurt Bordas (a make-believe cop running against incumbent Jossie Valentin). Bordas sees this as an opportunity to make a complete fool of himself with his statement: “All I have to say in regards to this is we are looking past this and focusing on the well-being of the citizens of Ward 4 and discussing quality of life issues that we are faced with daily.” Yes, time to move past this, as sexual harassment has nothing to do with quality of life and it certainly would not be an issue of interest to anybody in Ward 4. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Oh, of course he supports Franco here as Bordas is also a woman-hater. Then both Franco and Bordas bring the concept of “free speech” into the conversation. This is very odd because both of these men are veterans so they must have sworn an oath to uphold the constitution at some point.  1A states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” Nowhere in this drama has anyone’s free speech been infringed and nowhere in 1A does it say you should not be held accountable for your words.  It is Mark Twain that once said: “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” This is very good advice to the receiver, but it is my wish that people continue to ignore it only because it arms the rest of us sensible folks with the ability to know exactly who we should not be wasting our time on.

This certainly is not unique to Holyoke; these stories continue to be part of the Zeitgeist here in the USA: Rape culture, Gamergate, Bill Cosby, domestic violence in the NFL, male coaches as predators in women’s athletics, Columbia University mattress protest, women’s health issues being decided by male lawmakers or by corporations like Hobby Lobby instead of being made between the patient and a doctor, etc. The statistics for rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment are known to be vastly understated. One reason derives from the tradition of saying “boys will be boys,” as an excuse for inappropriate behavior by males. Young girls have been taught to keep silent and to overlook bad behavior by boys. Another is that victims frequently have the blame shifted onto them. Also it is often that the perpetrator is someone close to the victim so somewhere in there is a fear of hurting someone else, possibly the perpetrator himself – or – it is kids, friends or relatives to where the fear is spread. Of course, there is potential of retribution in many cases.  Then, when history proves that there is often zero results with the reported cases; what is the reason to come forward if it is the belief that nothing positive could come of it anyhow?  That said, it is extremely important for victims to stand up and be heard no matter the obstacles and it can take an incredible amount of bravery in order to do so – which brings us to this letter we received.

Angela Gerhard writes:

The “New Direction” for Holyoke?

My second day on the job for the O’Connell campaign had me at my first campaign meeting, where I met the marketing group, some volunteers and staff, and got insight into what the campaign was going to need from me for the job they hired me to do. Afterwards I went to dinner with Fran and two of his advisors at Max’s Tavern in Springfield in order to catch me up to speed. It gave me a chance to learn what the campaign plans and goals were, and gave me the some more of the much-desired background info I wanted into who Fran really is and what his run for mayor is all about.

It was a long but insightful evening. It was casual and a great way for me to meet “the guys”. His advisors are close friends of his he’s known for years, businessmen who Fran admires and trusts. The three of them all had a drink or two, I drank soda water. We talked about the current state of affairs in the city and we all contributed our thoughts and ideas as to what changes we’d like to see. We debated campaign strategy and talked about positioning, and whether or not it was ok to say one thing to get into office and then “pivot” once we got there, as one advisor suggested matter-of-factly. We discussed schools and we talked about the department of Economic Planning and Development. Quite a bit.

It was made clear that Fran’s goal is to more or less unofficially act as the Director of Planning if he reaches office. I’d heard him in earlier private conversations talk about wanting to have a highly-paid and qualified “right hand” that would take on much of what the day-to-day Mayoral duties would be. His idea is to give a part of his salary that person, because he “doesn’t need the money,” and this would free him up while someone else handles the day-to-day “minutiae” of running the city as he drums up business as the front man for Planning and Development.

As talk of specific employees in the department comes up here and there Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, a development specialist in the department, was mentioned. One of the two advisors asked who she was. Fran’s animated response:

“That Tessa, smart girl, but I can never hear half of what she’s saying because I can’t stop looking at her big tits!”

I was horrified. The guys chuckled. My reflexive response was of embarrassment, and as I put my head down, looking at my lap because I didn’t know what to say, I found myself angry that I felt that way. I consider myself a fairly outspoken person, and I think many would agree that’s a fair assessment. And here I was in the corner booth, wedged in between one man and another, unable to get up and exit the conversation and go home because we had all rode in one car down from West Springfield. I kept thinking “he doesn’t know me well enough to be saying things like that in front of me.” And we’re talking about a political campaign here, a future mayor…where was the professionalism?! It was baffling. We all know the frat-boy mentality exists and flourishes and boy’s clubs die hard, but we expect it to be hidden from view when we’re not a member of the club.

I’ve known Tessa as an acquaintance. I like her. I know she loves her job and works hard and takes pride in it. I have only heard great things about her work there, and what a benefit to the department she is. Her having to work with a man that demeans her in this way is in no circumstance remotely acceptable. Are we a city that will elect this into office? If this were any other circumstance, would a man who said this of a future employee ever be given the job? No, if only because he’d be a liability. The other day I finally reached out to Tessa about this, to let her know and ask if it were ok if I identify her when I speak out on this. I was and am sickened and saddened to know that this for her isn’t by any means an isolated incident, and that she’s been subject to continuous sexual harassment throughout her professional career. She feels defeated knowing that she’s worked so hard to establish herself in her new position over the past year, only to learn that her potential boss won’t be able to take her seriously because he can’t see beyond her anatomy.

Later on during dinner I caught a little something that Fran was saying to one of the guys while the other one is talking to me. A little of a “got her for the campaign // she’s a hell of a lot better to look at than this one,” referring to me and the other guy I was speaking with. I felt uncomfortable with the eyes on me from across the table, with the slow nodding in agreement. I wished I had caught more, but it wasn’t meant for me to hear. More disappointment and disgust.

 After more time passed during the night, I inevitably said something to the effect of “You do know that you can’t say things like that, right? It’s really f*ed up, you just can’t do it.” My comment was was met with silence from the rest.

I was filled with conflict over working for someone who is immature, sexist, impulsive, and juvenile. It was my second day on the job. Out to dinner, I was already “one of the guys” and Fran felt free to be himself, crude “sense of humor” and all. Fran O’Connell, who has a good shot at winning this campaign, will essentially be the boss of the young woman he made that awful remark about. He’ll be in a position of power over many women who, you know, have tits. With all of the controversy that this city has had to endure, is this the “New Direction” we want to work towards?

I’ll be honest and admit I’m deeply ashamed that I spent time trying to rationalize it all and convince myself that in some alternate universe this type of behavior would be dismissible. I hoped that it was isolated remark, but I have since learned from several others’ accounts that this isn’t the case. I tried to chalk it up to a crass sense of humor. I struggled with it, a lot. I was someone who actively campaigned against a city councilor who made sexist remarks about another councilor and sought to have him removed from council. As time passed I started to pair up that experience I had with Fran and his “guys” with stories people told me of their own experience of him being offensive, inappropriate, hostile, and making them feel uncomfortable, and clear pattern started to emerge. When I read a quote from an acquaintance to the advisor I worked with that described Fran as “arrogant and undiplomatic….kind of like dealing with high school mentality,” he laughed it off and said it sounded pretty accurate and that he could be all of those things at times.

So I made a conscious decision to stick with the job, for various reasons. Part of which is that I compulsively research and gather information. I can’t help it. And research, in the end, was what the campaign wanted me to do. Being on the inside, working closely with one of his advisors, I would get one of the best views possible into what we were dealing with here. It didn’t take long to see that the work I brought to the campaign was going to be routinely dismissed and that any damage I could be doing by playing a supporting role was not much to worry about. Was I dismissed because I was a woman? I don’t know. Did they keep me on-board because as I was told more than once that I was “too dangerous” to let go? I did the work requested. My stint with the campaign was brief, and I was recently let go anyhow, being told that “policy and research work will be moving to a professional organization.” I figured I had 4-6 weeks left max, and I wasn’t terribly surprised, because I found myself butting heads with the advisor I was working with and continually frustrated with the lack of input from Fran and his unwillingness to heed advice in terms of introducing his platform. And no, I’m not bitter and resentful for being let go. No, I wasn’t working for the “competition” as a mole. If anything I feel some relief knowing I’m free of all of it, even if I am out of the much needed extra income.

Maybe Fran hasn’t displayed this sort of thing in the businesses he’s owned over the years. I honestly can’t say. But I do know that his marketing team will no doubt put together a well thought-out response to this, if they address it at all. All I can do is encourage the people who are private to share their experiences in a way they’re comfortable with to every Holyoke voter they know, and for people who can muster the courage, including other city employees, to call this type of behavior when they see it, and to do so publicly. It’s beyond difficult to do this because I know there will be backlash directed at me, that there will be collateral damage and relationships I value lost, but I’m really not good at sitting silent when there’s this much at stake.

So there you have it.

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I have three daughters that I don’t want to grow up in a world where they should only be seen and not heard.  Not putting people in power that treat women like this would be the new direction for us.

Since I first learned of Angela’s story a week ago it has been discussed among a few people and more stories have come to light.  I do hope that these folks will come forward on record.

Diversity in Holyoke

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

Not diverse enough?

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

Racism and Censorship in Holyoke

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

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

(David Flores at work on the piece in question)

Printed in it’s entirety:

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

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

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

Big Brother in Holyoke

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

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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

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

 

The Future of Holyoke Schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional factoids:

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

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

 

Ward 4 Watch List – See Click Fix

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

SeeClickFix is turning out to be a powerful tool.

 

Congratulations Holyoke!

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

Sanity Prevails, Alex Morse Wins Reelection!

Nice work Holyoke voters, you made the right choice.

Oh, and Jeff Stanek…  this is for you:

More Folks Publishing Dirt on Jeff Stanek

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

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

 

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

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

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.

 

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.

#####

Audio of Morse Apology for Casino

2012/11/26 in Absurd, Activism, Alex Morse, Audio, Casino, Holyoke, Lies, Suher

Audio From Today’s Press Conference

 

Link to MP3

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.

Pioneer Valley Green-Rainbow Party on the Hobert Campaign

2012/09/12 in Absurd, Elections, Green Party, Hobert, Holyoke, Press Release, Purcell, Vega

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12-Sept-2012

Holyoke, MA, 12-Sept-2012:  Attorney Peter Vickery (co-chair of the Pioneer Valley Green-Rainbow Party) has issued this statement on the Jerome Hobert write-in campaign to secure the GRP line on the ballot in the November 6th election for Holyoke state representative:

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Green-Rainbow Party (GRP) officers in the Pioneer Valley want to make clear that Jerome Hobert does not represent their party. Hobert, who obtained the GRP’s line on the general election ballot via a sticker campaign, is not a registered GRP voter and in his campaign literature has described himself as a “conservative Democrat.”

Rick Purcell, a Holyoke voter and member of the GRP state committee, has filed an Objection with the State Ballot Law Commission. The Objection argues that the appearance of Hobert’s name on the ballot as the GRP nominee would infringe Purcell’s association freedom and undermine the right of the party to choose its nominees, rights that Article 16 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights protects.

“The GRP practices open, transparent democracy,” said Mary Likins, co-chair of the Pioneer Valley chapter of the GRP. “The actions of Mr. Hobert insult our party’s practices and integrity. Even after Mr. Hobert approached the Pioneer Valley GRP at our July monthly meeting — where he was clearly informed that an endorsement would not be forthcoming — he set out within the community and through the media informing the public of his intent to run as a Green-Rainbow write-in candidate. This egregious action by Mr. Hobert conveys an attitude of entitled indifference to party rules, disrespect to our party, and disrespect toward the voters, who deserve honesty, openness, transparency, and democracy. He is the antithesis of what a Green-Rainbow candidate represents.”

Peter Vickery is the party’s other co-chair and is the attorney representing Mr. Purcell before the State Ballot Law Commission. “Our party chose not to field a candidate in this race,” said Vickery. “Mr. Hobert has every right seek public office, but not under our banner. The GRP is a progressive party. Mr. Hobert describes himself as a conservative. He should sail under his own true colors instead of using a Green flag of convenience.”

Download (PDF, 73KB)

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