You are browsing the archive for Lies.

The Story of Boner Pills and Bankruptcies.

2013/09/13 in Absurd, Alex Morse, Capitalism, Elections, Federal, Lies, Mayor, Politics, Stanek

(Jim Santiago Memorial Water Park is pictured in the foreground)

The politicos that plague the City of Holyoke have been very good in the past at creating their own comedy but this Jeff Stanek guy really takes the cake.  Much like Danny Boyle and his serial campaigns promising a “business professional” with his sordid  leadership past; Stanek promises similar but with a much more impressive résumé of scandal and failures.  These are companies that he won’t even name in any of his interviews or post on his campaign website – only providing vague references like “call center”, “direct marketing” and “yacht sales”.  Yacht sales?  Is that supposed to impress us?  It is like when my kids see a limousine and then ooh and ah about how they want to ride in one and all I remember is the time I rode in one on the Vegas strip and found a syringe wrapped up in a dirty pair of underwear stuffed between the upholstery.  You gotta be one totally smarmy soulless motherfucker to be a yacht salesman.    …and what kind of real-world business experience can you achieve working with the out of touch customer base of the yacht market?  Say it three times:  Yacht sales, yacht sales, yacht sales…  there, if you thought it was to begin with, it’s not interesting anymore.

So, what of the other jobs? Well…

Talk America filed bankruptcy while he was the controller (Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case No. 99-20765), Vital Basics (aka Talk America) had FTC charges resulting in a $1,000,000.00 fine (FTC Docket C-4107) for activities occurring while he was controller due to the sales of boner pills which were unlabeled prescription drugs claiming to be an herbal and safe alternative but which were actually counterfeit Viagra – very dangerous since they were marketed as “a safe alternative to other ED medications for those who take nitrates for chest pain.” – luckily nobody died as a result – and there were a number of other snake-oil type products (Avacor – an all-natural hair replacement, Vinarol – an herbal formula to increase sexual desire and performance, Thermal Carb – an all-natural fat burner and carbohydrate blocker and Glutotrin – a drug that supposedly cures, mitigates or treats diabetes).  And then to top it off a company he was working for, MyFreeMedicine.com, was hit with a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) again by the FTC (FTC DOCKET CV5-1607).  The FTC claiming “Since at least September 2003, defendants have deceptively marketed a program purporting to provide free prescription medications to eligible low-income consumers.  Defendants target a particularly vulnerable group of people: those with low income and no insurance coverage for prescription medications who spend more than $100 a month for the medications they need for their health and well-being.”  It was a case that made national news – ABC and NBC. …and yes, it was a case which was later dismissed in US District Court of Maine (Docket CV-00362).  However, MyFreeMedicine.com was ordered to cease its operations.  Stanek said in a Masslive / Republican interview that the case was dismissed and:  “No, I wouldn’t say it shaped me. It’s just, I think it’s just business. Anyone under the sun can file a lawsuit at anytime.”  He’s right, it was dismissed.  He’s also right that anyone under the sun can file a lawsuit anytime.  This is certainly true for personal injury, but let us just compare apples to apples here:  The FTC does not normally pursue unless they believe in a solid case and this case was hot on the heels of ANOTHER FTC suit where his company was fined $1,000,000.00.  Have you worked for one legit operation ever?  Or, better question…  with the exception of “yacht sales” did you only work for one operation that would change its name every time there was a lawsuit or a scandal as it does appear with those mentioned above?  Alternatively, were you actually completely naive and oblivious to these wrongdoings?  In that case you are a first class idiot.

At first glance I thought that this guy would be real competition for Morse…  but illegal boner pills; taking advantage of low income people; bankruptcies; – cough – yacht sales; and FTC lawsuits are his business pedigree?  I would not trust this guy to run a laundromat let alone a municipality.


(Holyoke is virile and needs no enhancement)

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

The Party is Over

2012/11/07 in Anarchism, Brutality, Democrats, Economics, Education, Elections, Eschatology, Federal, Imperialism, Lies, Neoliberalism, Obama, POTUS

(no pun intended)

Time to Get Back to Work, Government…

B.O. is not up for reelection now that he’s in his 2nd term and the campaign cycle for the next presidential election should not start for AT LEAST another nine months so we have some time to really get some shit done here.  If the DNC and Sir Obama, the Capitulator, want to conclusively demonstrate that his second term will be REALLY different, what he needs to do TODAY, very first thing, is this (these are all things that the President can do, on his own – as charge of cabinet, our military and the agencies under his control).

Dear Supreme Oligarch of the Corporatocracy of the American States, I beg you, please hear my requests that I humbly submit before you:

1) RELEASE Bradley Manning - post haste - Manning’s imprisonment should be a bellwether that Shamwow’s by which your other 2nd term “accomplishments” should be measured. Nothing ELSE you could do would reveal your willingness to respect individual rights of conscience.  Manning has been tortured, humiliated and held for nearly three years without trial.  It’s time to face the facts that we as a nation committed war crimes and the airing of dirty laundry that Manning has provided is indeed the best thing for our country and the human species worldwide.  US Imperialism and our wars are a cancer on this Earth.  Admit it by giving Manning the freedom and clemency that he deserves.

2) FIRE Arne Duncan – and prove he’s not out to bust the teachers’ unions and privatize the schools.  Your administration has forever privatized health care, a large part of security in our “kinetic actions” abroad, Homeland Security, FOIA requests, domestic spying, prison industrial and a number of other things handed over to for profit interests.  I wish that we could roll all that back…  but we cannot do this to our schools.  Also, while you are at it, FIRE Treasury’s Geithner AND his alleged replacement, Erskine Bowles who both want to fuck with entitlements.

3) ANNOUNCE a cease-fire in Afghanistan and end all your murder of innocents – provide a steady withdrawal schedule instead of that 2024 that you have in negotiation (not 2014 that Biden said in debates, that is not at all true).  We have been there for 11 years.  UNESCO announced that Afghanistan is now the worst place in the world to be born.  Things were actually better before the bull-in-the-china-shop that are our kill teams and drones arrived there.  STOP IT.  While we are on the topic, world supply of heroin from Afghanistan went from 0% in 2001 to 90+% today.  I paraphrase one CIA operative that spoke about our South and Central American dealings during the Iran-Contra era.  ”Certainly the CIA launders money for black-ops…  add hard drugs to the equation and it amplifies it.  It is money laundering on steroids.”  Yes, that heroin production in our presence is indeed suspect (this happened in 2007, not under Obama’s watch, but it does prove that they are still up to the same old dirty tricks – expected as the CIA does not change its spots)

4) PUT solar technology BACK on the WhiteHouse and on ALL Federal buildings nationally.  Commit to stop Keystone XL, “clean coal“, fracking, offshore drilling, domestic drilling and eliminate all other absurd non-renewable and Big Oil Profit programs that are part of your plan.  End the tariffs on Chinese made solar panels.  You announced a tariff due to China’s subsidizing the manufacture being unfair.  WE SHOULD BE SUBSIDIZING or outright financing renewable energy technology.  Because of the tariffs the prices have gone up enough that in some areas where there a boon in installation it has slowed down completely.  This has cost jobs and has not helped reduce consumption.  2011 was the Biggest Year Ever for corporate profit in the petroleum sector due to your policies.  

5) ANNOUNCE an end to the war on journalists, whistle-blowers, environmentalists, peace seekers and animal rights activists – in other words, defend the Constitution like you took an oath to do – and put an end to the militarization of police, US Marshals, TSA, Border Patrol and Homeland Security that target these groups.  Do not have your DOJ defend the NDAA to the Supreme Court – you know it is unconstitutional – ADMIT IT.  Do not kill any more US citizens via the “disposition matrix” and its drone activated targeted kill list.  This is another unconstitutional impeachable offense that you and your admin must admit your wrongdoing.  Work with Congress to repeal the Patriot Act.  End all other nefarious and invasive plans that are in the works like the NSA’s Orwellian “Perfect Citizen” project.  

But he WON’T do any of this things, of course, because he no longer needs ANYBODY’s approval except the cult of the Democrats that have come to accept these horrors as good policy.  He is all set. Next stop, to be enshrined in the US political pantheon as a great leader right to all the other jackasses that have promoted US Imperialism, War and Crony Capitalism.  Maybe he’ll get another Nobel Peace Prize?  …or maybe a future president will bestow upon him a Medal of Freedom, like Obama provided our favorite mass-murderer named Madeleine Albright?

The War on Sesame Street

2012/10/05 in Absurd, Elections, Federal, H.U.S.H., Lies, Neoliberalism, Press, pronography

Meanwhile We Ignore The Snuffleupagus In The Room

(I added a few things and people / puppets to this image.  See if you can spot them all.)

Sometimes the Democrats surpass all understanding – not the politicians themselves, rather their supporters. Republicans, they always make a certain kind of logical sense. If to be a total asshole requires doing A, B and C, you can be pretty sure the Republicans will make it platform and proceed forth with A, B and C to the fullest. But the Dems?  They do the exact same thing as the Republicans and get away with it.  Why?  Their actions do not get resistance from their opposition because they are doing what the Republicans would want.  Republican leaders cannot make noise here as they would appear soft to their base and then lose political capital in the fear department.  However, if McCain made it to office then liberals would be in the streets protesting and their pundits would be denouncing the attacks on labor, the use of drones, extra-judicial executions of US citizens, escalation of war and the oppressive attack on 1st Amendment rights on the home-front via the NDAA and the Patriot Act.  Why then, would there be the noise if roles were reversed and Democrats were not in power?  Democrats only demonize crimes against humanity when they are not the ones committing them – if you do not talk about it then it is as if they are not happening!  So, instead we talk about Big Bird.  Bravo.  What a fucking distraction.  As much as it is so far from what should be discussed in the public sphere I gotta say it is brilliant in its powerful manipulation of the message.  Bernays would be getting an erection right about now.  Yes, to be fair it was indeed Romney that started this conversation, but the media and the party PR machines are crafting the public dialog and I am certain that Romney is as much pleased as Obama that we are not focusing on our wars, income gap, drones, oil and military industrial profits.  The controlling interests that benefit from those issues are where the real campaign dollars come from.

I do miss Mr Rogers.

(Thanks to L.H. on the lifted A, B, C inspiration / plagiarism.)

Convention is Over. Everyone, Back to War… I Mean Work!

2012/09/08 in Absurd, DNC, Elections, Lies, Politics, POTUS, Shame, War

FORWARD 2012

Below, the September 6th aired CNN interview where Obama discusses the Kill List and Rule of Law surrounding it.  FYI: When someone says “what is true,…” it means something is no doubt concealed.  Surprisingly, he actually responds directly to the question “Are the standards different when the target is an American?” with a confirmation that the Constitution will not protect a citizen if he deems them to be a threat – no jury, no trial, skip directly to death penalty.  The only reason that the Republicrats are not impeaching him now is due to the fact that this is BIG BUSINESS and they do not want to seem soft on killing brown people that don’t speak English and worship false gods.  USA! USA! USA!

Please, write your Senator, Representative and the President to express your condemnation to this barbarism. 

Wake Up!

2012/06/28 in Capitalism, Film, Law, Lies, Obama, POTUS, SCOTUS, Socialism

On SCOTUS and the Mandate Decision (or not).

(From They Live – the greatest B-movie ever)

I am sure that many people on the internet will now elevate themselves to the status of constitutional lawyer and make fast claims as to the merits of this landmark case. However, I will not. I am not a lawyer nor do I pretend to be one. I do try to be up on my civics and I admit that it does seem unprecedented to have the courts agree with the government that all citizens must fork over to corporations but I have not read case-law or precedent for this decision - I have not even read the decision itself.  I am only assuming that it is the changing of times rather than a decision based on the intent of our Founding Fathers and their codified constitution (which probably should be scrapped by now)… it is all up to interpretation after all, and this is the post-Citizen’s United / post-TARP era, so who am I to question corporate welfare?  I mean, already the majority of tax receipts go to build weapons via private and publicly traded corporations – also, we are on our way to privatizing schools and prisons. I can hardly wait for the fallout from all that craziness. We might was well put the two in the same building, germinate prepubescent drug war participants with prescriptions stimulants to treat non-diagnoses – that way we can sink tax dollars into private health care, charter schools and the prison–industrial complex all at the same time – even better, add a police / military recruiting center so those that actually graduate can come back into the system as law enforcement, drone operators or cracked-out soldiers for cannon fodder in future Imperial Wars. (see the films Girl From Monday and Stingray Sam if you have not, both satirize our prison-state similarly). That said I am not surprised that our government and courts would force citizens to be consumers rather than provide to them what should be a benefit. I am rambling… sorry.  What I am trying to say is that I could not care less about the issue of constitutionality or how this decision landed; it is the very fact that the decision had to be made to begin with that is my concern.

I find it funny is that this “Health Care Reform” is a partisan issue as it is a massive corporate welfare scheme that both parties seem to embrace in their own terms. It is also curious that people have such short memories: It was Bob Dole with Liz Fowler (she’s the former WellPoint CEO and Health Insurance Industry leader that wrote the current bill) that were together working on the same plan back in 1992 – and eerily very similar to Romneycare in Massachusetts.  It only happened now because the insurance companies were looking for the hat-trick of House, Senate and Executive to grease it through. Democrats happened to have two good years to work on this and it happened. AS THE INDUSTRY WANTED. In a shark-like feeding frenzy DNC members jump in to get a few years of campaign financing and promos from the insurance industry PACs and lobbyist and the Republicans lose out.  It could have easily been the other way around if the GOP was in charge – except with the Republican plan would try to privatize Medicare along with this welfare to the insurance industry all while the Democrats opposing and pretending to attempt to tack on a public option to the RNC plan. After all, it was Obama, in Greenwich, CT addressing some of the wealthiest people in the country who actually laughed and mocked a person that asked him about his promise of a public option. If you look through Obama’s campaign trail speeches while he was in a race against Hillary the words “public option” came from his mouth more than 1,000 times. It was this that was partly responsible for is being mislabeled a “socialist” by the teabaggers. Of course, Democrats were not listening to his promises because they were talking about his style, or the fact that he was black, or the fact that he was not a Republican, or the fact that he was not a Clinton. (FYI: I originally had remorse not voting for Obama because of the history making possibility of a black president but I could not let myself vote for a Republocrat).

Of course, EVERYONE should have access to the healthcare that they need… and there are indeed small victories in HCR, but in the end REFORM should be a single payer plan that competes with private insurance.  For three decades every accounting office (GAO, CBO) from either RNC/DNC administration that did a study showed that a full socialized plan would save everyone money. Cutting profit out and the huge pool of a public plan would soon put private insurance out of business. The last result that I saw published was a potential savings of $60 billion for health care consumers (No surprise that it would not float. With a total of 1200 different insurance plans in the country $60 billion would be around the annual salary of all board members of all insurance providers). But no, a national – socialized – single payer plan is not a possibility and now we can only anticipate cost going up and employers skimping on their employee benefits with high deductible or health savings account plans. Also, what could be more “pro-business” than lifting the health care responsibility from the employer?

If anything has driven health care costs up in the past it is insurance… In my own experience working in a clinical laboratory for four years and a NICU for three, it was often said that insurance companies were practicing medicine by deciding what they would cover and how much they would reimburse on claims. For example, symptoms could indicate two different diagnoses, doctor orders tests – one test rules out one diagnosis, and one test proves another. Patient is then assigned an ICD-9 code to indicate a specific diagnosis. Insurance only funds claims for the tests that are related to that result, we keep billing them, we bill the patient, we bill the insurance, we bill the patient, and then we have a pileup of unpaid receipts so we then hire more staff with the sole job description of chasing insurance payments. And what happened after insurance companies paid only 80% of claims plus the costs of addition staff? Prices went up for everyone. Non-insured and their non-payment resulting in free care also drove costs up, but that would be cured by a Medicare for all. Anecdotal, for sure, but that really was the way it worked at three different places in my experience.

There are, of course, consequences to labor.  If you were a business that employed non-skilled workers and in this job market where the unemployed are taking jobs where there attraction of benefits are secondary to a regular income and you had the option of paying a $2000 fine per employee, or $10,000 in health insurance premiums for each employee what would you do? You might dump workers guilt free into government subsidized insurance exchanges.   These once employer-covered people then would be forced to buy from an exchange that is less comprehensive and more costly than what the employer ran away from.  Companies that don’t follow suit will be at a competitive disadvantage.  …and even since before the Health Care Reform employers were continually hiring more part-time staff or scrimping on health care by paying an absolute minimum towards the employee plans and then going with the cheapest possible high-deductible or health savings account type coverage.  Increasingly over the past few decades there has also been more and more outsourcing and layoffs.  This will still continue; only now they will blame it on health care costs the same way they cite the minimum wage, Social Security, the abolition of slavery etc. etc. for the need to be “competitive”.

Lastly, the biggest fear that opponents have to socialized healthcare (and to welfare, Medicare, EBT, WIC, etc) is that it would be rife with corruption… Absurd because I cannot think of anything more potentially corrupt than the thought of politicians making sweet deals with corporations like we see here with Health Care Reform (Fowlercare).

It is a scam, ya’all.

For some reason I tied in three films above… so here is another one, this time unrelated to Democrats and Republicans (well, there is a bunch of sheep in it). The Colour of Pomegranates is one Netflix streaming.  You should check it out:

Beyond Obama – Robert Mangabeira Unger

2012/06/20 in Capitalism, Democrats, Economics, Elections, Eschatology, H.U.S.H., Lies

In the Beyond series, philosopher and politician Roberto Mangabeira Unger imagines beyond the current paradigms. Find out more about Unger at his Harvard Law School faculty page, at his Wikipedia page or watch more of his Beyond series of videos.

I disagree with Robert Mangabeira Unger and believe that the false dichotomy of choice that the two party hegemony provides cannot be fixed.  Unger suggests that we need vote Obama out of office in order to facilitate a reorientation of the Democratic party as a vehicle for progressive alternatives.  I once believed the DNC was a choice – maybe back in 1988 when I voted for the first time – but time and time again we are robbed and duped by leaders from both parties who only serve private interests, established power, Imperial notions, the Military Industrial and most recently the Security State .  The two party system must be dismantled in order for there to be hope, change or a move forward from our most certain decline.  To waste the energy in reforming the DNC is almost as absurd in believing in the DNC to begin with.  However, Unger does provide a great argument as to what is wrong with the current state.

Never trust a junkie… or a politician.

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

Especially a Democrat…

Rally to Fight Gentrification in Holyoke

2012/03/28 in Action, Activism, Gentrification, HHA, Lies, Lyman Terrace, Poverty, Ward 1

Please join us on Thursday March 29th 5:30pm.

 

You can RSVP at CRUSH and on Facebook.

Bring your signs.

How You Can Help Lyman Terrace

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

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD HAS BEEN EXTENDED

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

A vital community.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLEASE SUBMIT A PUBLIC COMMENT!

Public comments must pertain to 3 topics:

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

Mail or hand deliver the Office of Community Development:

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

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

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

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

or email at: robert_p._cwieka@hud.gov

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

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

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

The Shock Doctrine in Holyoke

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

The Razing of Lyman Terrace

Dignity, an excellent concept.

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

Access.

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

We are here to help you.

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

Human Environment.

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

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

Humans, some newer.

Self portrait with decay.

 Links to the HHA Letter of Intent:

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

In Spanish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some history of this practice in Holyoke:

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

Draft City Council Resolution:

Holyoke City Council

February 21, 2012 Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No Significant Impact on the Human Environment”

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

 
 
 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 It ain’t over til it’s over…

 

Public Enemy #1

2012/01/08 in Activism, Admin, Alex Morse, Art, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Lies, Mayor, Mike Plaisance, The Republican, Youth

 

I have never volunteered or donated to a candidate with the exception of two and there are a number of reasons for that. First, I am an anarchist at heart…  I don’t desire the hierarchy that representative government requires – I don’t see politicians as leaders.  Second, I think that the bar is set way too low as to what is qualified and elected by our voters.  The results are actually quite absurd in my mind…  on the local and recent we have Murphy, Vacon and Bresnahan?  What the fuck are people thinking?  Not just the voters, what motivates these freaks to actually put their hat in the race?  It really boggles my mind.  If we actually had real leaders then maybe I could reconcile the first problem in local elections.  Third, there is the buyer’s remorse.  The system is the system and I participate even though it is against my better judgments I suppose.  I voted for Vega…  I voted for Deval.  I have since self-flagellated a million times for these crimes I have committed.  Of course, I admit that it is true that I have had reservations about a few people and have been rewarded.  But mostly I am cynical and disappointed when it comes to politics.  That all said, I did support and volunteer for two candidates:  Robert Reich when he ran in the Democratic (puke) Primary to potentially oppose Mitt Romney.  His failure sent me deeper into the politics-hole.  Recently I donated time, money and support to our newly elected Mayor Morse.  Why?  I thought that he embodied and supported what represented success to my city – our city – and I see him as a leader, honest, qualified and committed.  I believe in him as do many.

 

Now we exist in a bacchanalian revelry for what seems to be a victory with two big fundraising parties this week.  Yes, Morse is a win but he’s not the only thing that will bring us out of the darkness.  As a 22 year non-native resident of Holyoke I can attest to the fact that in the past five-ten years the -potential- of Holyoke has been its calling card.  Much has changed – old Holyoke is in its death throws, a thriving arts district has developed, the canal has been recognized as an asset, Victory Theater is a reality, state leadership has helped with the data center project and now Morse arrives at the right time to be the facilitator and architect of Holyoke’s renaissance.  It is not just him… as there a number of concepts that one would credit as prerequisites to the success of a city – especially with a small city like ours. With the exception of a few of the obvious offerings that municipal government is expected to provide I will name a few positives that I find extremely important, and I am sure that you, the reader, will agree with most of these: Good schools and libraries – especially the presence of a college or community college in city limits, like HCC; after-school and summer activities for kids and teens – organized by schools, non-profits or community based actions like KPAO! and the Unrestrained Youth Group; arts and culture – especially venues that foster homegrown talent and creativity; successful local small businesses that cater to the public; employment within city limits – ideally not looking towards big-box corporate part time / wage labor; public transportation within and to and from our downtown; neighbors helping neighbors; leadership that engages the population; ethnic, gender, religious diversity and acceptance; community policing; civic pride… etc.

 

That all said…  there is one very powerful and influential force that is almost wholly absent from our sphere:  Media and Journalism.  Outside of blogs and weekly papers there really is not that much coverage as the only local daily paper that focuses on Holyoke stoops to tabloid nonsense and local broadcast TV while similar is increasingly irrelevant in the internet age.  Holyoke has long been the whipping boy in the news and I do find it odd how this works…  sure, there is plenty to report about with crime, casinos, fiascoes and bad politics…  but when there is nothing else to report what do you do?  You make stupid vapid nonsense into controversy.  The Republican has nothing to offer but coupons for Dunkin’ Donuts and tabloid journalism.  It really is a shame…  it has a glorious history with Tom Wolfe, Charles Dow and Edward Bellamy (anyone that has not read Looking Backward should).  Check out this headline and story from The Republican’s best and brightest reporter, the beef-witted Mike Plaisance:  Holyoke’s new Mayor Alex Morse generates excitement, but how long before backlash arrives? When? It arrived when you wrote this bullshit “story”.

 

I would go as far as saying that The Republican is anti-Holyoke.

The Quiet Revolution

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

Oh, What A Night!


(this is our new mayor)

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

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

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

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

I dedicate this song, to you, Holyoke:

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

Casinos win by betting on losers.

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

How a Holyoke CASINO Will Affect You and Your Family

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

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

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

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

within 5 years of the opening of a new casino:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Telling Statement from CEO of the American Gaming Association:

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

 

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT IF A CASINO COMES TO HOLYOKE:

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

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

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

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

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

ANTI-CASINO VOTER’S GUIDE:

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

MAYOR: Alex Morse

CITY COUNCIL:

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

OPPOSED:

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

LEANING OPPOSED (SERIOUS RESERVATIONS OR TALKING SHIT?):

Aaron Vega
Kevin Jourdain
Yasser Menwer

Presented by:

Holyoke Against Casinos