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HUSH Voters Guide 2013

2013/11/03 in Alex Morse, Bresnahan, Casino, Elections, H.U.S.H., Lisi, Mailbag, Mayor, McGee, Walmart

“The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

ON QUESTION #2: Vote YES for NEP.  There’s a strong vibration of anti-reason and anti-science in American politics.  Holyoke is certainly no exception.  So, I’d like to discuss the needle exchange first, because that is the most utterly confusing thing on this ballot (well, except for maybe Dan Bresnahan and Brenna McGee as candidates).  I am not a doctor, though I did have aspirations to be one and was at one point seeking enrollment in a PA program on reenlistment into the US ARMY some years ago – which never happened due to a mountaineering accident.  At that time I was a Microbiology and Chemistry student and in that combination of disciplines was focusing on the biochemistry of immunology – I did go on to work in healthcare both in a laboratory and in a NICU but that was a long time ago.  Now, I am no expert, and I will be the first to admit that…  However, from what I do know; the best way to slow down the spread of a disease is to disrupt the vector of a pathogen. It really is pretty fundamental:  Spread by aerosol?  Wear a mask.  Spread by drinking water?   Treat / filter the water.  Spread by direct contact?  Wash hands / use condoms.  etc, etc.   Dirty needles spread disease and removing dirty needles from the equation greatly limits the spread of related communicable diseases.  I also believe in leaving some things up to the experts and leaving some other things up to the democratic process.  The needle exchange is not something that should be “decided upon”.  It simply makes sense and should be established so leave it up to health experts and not some democratic process… What does boggle my mind is folks like Linda Vacon, a registered nurse that supposedly knows and cares about healthcare, and others who claim to “be good with numbers” oppose this program or say the ills of the program outweigh any benefits.  The benefit is that is saves lives.  The possibility to save one life makes the program invaluable.  Opposition can only come from absolute ignorance or, more likely, a desire to have “those people” die because they are less than human.  It also reminds us of those tin-foil hat wearing Alex Jones fans that think that vaccines are a some sort of government conspiracy eugenics program or, equally so, that climate change is a leftist conspiracy.  It is all part of the general dumbing down of America where people are more likely to be motivated by fear than they are by the truth. For those that might want to read more on the realities of NEP please see this document from Drug Policy Alliance or this link from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Also, this well done video staring my girls has a great message (while strongly appeal to emotion it is the truth) that comes from A Clean Holyoke / Tapestry Health:


ON QUESTION #1: Vote NO Casino in Holyoke.  I am opposed to the Holyoke casino idea – for a number of reasons – probably #1 was the site plan right along the Metacomet and Manadnock trail and pristine Mt Tom Reservation.  I am not not a fan of casinos but I am not opposed to gambling or casinos in general; however I think they are not the right fit for Western Mass and see the over-saturation of gambling in New England making this whole plan a failure.  Keep the ones we have and build no more.  Let Vegas be the destination that it is.  …and vote out of office every legislator that made this bill into law.  Then repeal the legislation before groundbreaking happens. This non-binding question seems like a waste of time by everyone involved, mostly because the timeline is moving, Springfield and Palmer are potential sites – Springfield passed the referendum with Palmer deciding on Nov 5th.  For Holyoke to be a possibility the entire Gaming Commission timeline would need to be set back to zero if for some reason that Palmer failed the vote and Springfield was denied by the commission.  Also, seeing that there is so much already invested I see the plan going full steam ahead in Springfield if Palmer fails because, they want that casino and with a new governor incoming and an actual bill in the works to stop the casino plan they want groundbreaking before any traction is made in repealing the law.

The question, the casino timeline and the politics here in Holyoke makes interesting the publishing of a mailer that lists an anti-casino candidate voting slate with a number of glaring omissions of would-be casino opponents.  An anonymous group called Citizens For a Better Holyoke which claims to be a “factually oriented group that works together with community members from all over Holyoke” that is “dedicated to providing the public with information”.  Well, I disagree.  Repeated attempts to find out who meets and decides on what is communicated was met with silence.  A few folks admit to being part of the group but on the literature, nothing… and the Facebook page there is no “About Us” that defines who was behind the mailer.  Not responding to queries is NOT working with the community and not providing a complete list of anti-casino candidates fails to educate and only exposes either the political bias of the organization or its failure to be able to live up to its mission statement.  HUSH was contacted by a few candidates that felt like the mailer misrepresented them.

Rick Purcell, previous Green Party Candidate for Lt Governor with Jill Stein and Ward 3 Holyoke candidate now running at large has maintained a solid anti-casino stance since well before CFBH formed and before legislation was passed.  His omission from the list is indeed strange because his position is very well known.  Rick claims he was not contacted for this mailer and that John Epstein, one of CFBH members, was hostile towards him 2 years ago.  I don’t know what to say here except that I am not sure why not each and every candidate was contacted about Q1 and inclusion on the mailer.  Yes, CFBH did revise a pdf to include Purcell but this is after the mailer was sent.  It may actually help Purcell to be excluded because of the scrutiny over the mailer.

Kevin Jourdain cried a river over not being included in a long press release published on his FB page and Masslive / Republican Newspaper.   He writes:  “I actively opposed the casino at the 1995 and 2002 ballot questions. A casino proposal has only once come before the Council in my tenure and that was during the 2010-2011 term. As Chair of the Redevelopment Committee at the time, I led the charge to oppose the Wyckoff casino and stopped the two proposals on the project both for a land transfer they needed of 5 acres of city property, as well as, for the city to forgo its right of first refusal on other areas inside Wyckoff. Not talk but votes on the issue. When others were looking to rush things through, who did casino opponents turn to? Kevin Jourdain.”  He is correct.  I saw some of this in City Council meetings.  In an email to me Kevin Jourdain said: “I got dumped because I voted on allowing the non binding question on ballot not because I am pro casino. It is not fair. I always allow those questions on fill in the blank topic. That has nothing to do with casinos.”  I am somewhatin agreement here.  Similarly, I almost always will sign papers for someone running for office.  I may not actually vote, but everyone deserves a chance.  Well, I do believe that I might take exception at some point.  I might not sign papers for a total bat-shit loon Tea Party member like Linda Vacon.  Similarly I might see a question like this one as a waste of time and resources.  Indeed, Kevin has been anti casino and his support of the ballot question is not indicative of a pro-casino stance.

Yassir Menwer forwarded me his email from John Epstein, which is interesting because it is very elusive.  Looks like a private citizen from Ward 7 contacting a Ward 5 candidate with a simple question and not representing an organization:

Hi Yasser,
    Dozens of people who are strongly opposed to a Holyoke casino have been coming up and asking me “who should I vote for” in the upcoming election?  And naturally I want to know, myself.
    For the record, would you please tell me if you are in favor of, or opposed to, a casino in Holyoke.
    Thanks,
    John

Whoa.  That’s good stuff.

Yassir provides a detailed response where he states that he believes that the casino is a bad idea, but if it were to happen that he would work to make it the best possible plan for the city.

In a reply:

Hello Yasser,
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply.
    Before I finalize what I’m doing, I wanted to make sure I was representing your position properly.  So rather than me trying to project my own interpretation upon your response to me, I’ve decided it would be best to provide you with a choice of several categories from which you can describe how you feel.
    Which of the following would you say most accurately describes your position on a casino in Holyoke:
    Pro-casino
    Leaning pro-casino (appears promising)
    Neutral
    Leaning anti-casino (serious reservations)
    Anti-casino
    Thanks for your patience!
    Best,
    John

 

Yassir responds “Leaning anti casino”.  Granted, I like my candidates to say exactly what they believe, but like Rick claims he experienced similar here two years ago…  who / what / why?  I think some might have reservations being subject to such a cold calling.  Instead, if there was full disclosure “we are Citizens For  A Better Holyoke, an anti-casino group and we want to know your position on such and such” you might get full disclosure and less CYA.

Anyhow.  CFBH needs a new ringmaster.

Mayors Race: Alex Morse.  As many know, I have butted heads with Alex on a number of occasions on some key issues.  He’s also landed in the right place each time.  I have also had the opportunity to work with Alex on the cable advisory board, where I see a great opportunity unfolding for Holyoke with a new media center in the works and the possibility of utilization of a neglected downtown property funded by Comcast.  Before the field of candidates unfolded I actually was not sure if I would have a horse in this race and when Jeff Stanek appeared I thought there might be some serious competition when Stanek started attending the anti-Walmart meetings.  But as more was revealed it began to appear that Stanek was not only not my candidate but quite possible the absolute worst case scenario with his history of corruption, bad business dealings and some very interesting campaign financial support.  Not to mention failure to attend two debates and absolutely horrible presentation in those where they did face off.  As well, some very illuminating discussions that are borderline racial profiling like NYC’s Stop and Frisk policies…  Stanek wants police checkpoints?  What, is he from North Korea?  The choice is very clear.  Alex is moving Holyoke forward and Stanek represents quite the opposite.

The rest of the races have some interesting fresh faces and motivated people stepping up to lead the city.  Mark Riffenburg, Mimi Panitch, Jim Chevalier (in a write-in sticker campaign), Rosalee Tensley Williams, Jossie Valentin and Christine Alger are new to political scene and offer a lot to our great city.

I’d like to go on at great length about all these choices and may return to edit more.  But for now, here is the HUSH endorsements…  and remember, anyone BUT Dan Bresnahan if you see the need to fill out more bubbles on the at-large section:

Mayor:
Alex Morse

City Clerk:
Louise K. Bisson

City Treasurer:
Jon Lumbra

City Council At Large:
Rebecca Lisi
Richard Purcell
Mark Riffenburg
Mimi Panitch
Kevin Jourdain
Peter Tallman

Ward 1 City Council:
Gladys Lebron-Martinez

Ward 2 City Council:
Anthony Soto

Ward 3 City Council:
David Bartley

Ward 4 City Council:
Jossie M. Valentin

Ward 5 City Council:
Yasser Menwer

Ward 6 City Council:
Jim Chevalier

Ward 7 City Council:
Gordon P. Alexander

School Committee at large:
Devin M. Sheehan

School Committee Ward 1:
Mildred I. Lefebvre

School Committee Ward 2:
Rosalee Tensley Williams

School Committee Ward 3:
Dennis W. Birks

School Committee Ward 4:
Christine Alger

School Committee Ward 5:
Kellie M. Pond

School Committee Ward 6:
Joshua Garcia

School Committee Ward 7:
Erin B. Brunelle

State Senate:
David Bartley

Question 1 “Should the city of Holyoke have a resort style gaming casino?”:
No

Question 2 “Should the city of Holyoke have a needle exchange program?”:
Yes

 

 

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)

Mayor Morse Revised Lyman Terrace Opinion

2012/08/29 in Activism, Alex Morse, Capitalism, Economics, Gentrification, H.U.S.H., HHA, Lyman Terrace, Mayor, Politics, Poverty, Press Release, Ward 1

Keeping Our Community:

An Update from Mayor Morse on the Lyman Terrace debate

 

Throughout my first months as mayor, a major priority of my administration has been the redevelopment and revitalization of Holyoke’s downtown. One issue in this effort has galvanized public attention and stirred emotions like no other: the redevelopment of Lyman Terrace. Most everyone concedes that the current state of the Lyman Terrace buildings is unacceptable; its structural flaws and health risks are many and varied. Given the common ground and goals we share, the debate over how we improve these conditions has become polarized beyond what it should be.

In a previous letter, I articulated my vision for a diverse, densely populated, vibrant, and prosperous downtown, with quality housing for all who seek it. Such are the principles that guide my decision-making. I understand that those principles could have been made clearer from the outset, and for that, I take full responsibility. I would like to take this opportunity to change that, and to update Holyokers on the steps my administration is taking to move forward.

It is important to note that the Holyoke Housing Authority (HHA) owns the property at Lyman Terrace; the City of Holyoke does not. And several months ago, in an effort to expedite the improvements to Lyman Terrace, the HHA informed me that they would be seeking improvement proposals from private developers. Furthermore, they informed me that they were seeking permission from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to demolish all or part of the housing complex were such a need to arise. As part of an administrative process that would enable the HHA to access federal funds for demolition, I signed their request for an environmental assessment.

Per the request of the HHA, I have since evaluated the proposals for the property’s improvement by a few developers. As yet, I have not been satisfied by those received. The ones I have reviewed would reduce the population of the neighborhood, take significant time to even begin the improvements, and have been generally misaligned with my guiding principles for the downtown. Upon further exploration, I also became dissatisfied with the HHA’s tenant relocation plan; Lyman’s tenants need to have better protections at the local level if we wish to keep as many residents as possible in Holyoke.

The shortcomings of this process have awoken genuine concern, fear, and resentment among many in the community. Considering the longstanding neglect of Lyman Terrace at the local level, such reactions are perfectly understandable. Furthermore, equating urban renewal with urban removal has been a widely practiced strategy across our country; and, as such, skepticism of our own project is warranted. We are now tasked with avoiding these only too common pitfalls, and how we do so collectively will say a great deal about who we are as a community.

As mayor, my responsibility is first and foremost to the people of Holyoke – and I cannot allow this process to be executed carelessly. I am thus announcing the following steps to realign the renovation of Lyman Terrace with the principles I have outlined above.

As of today, I have asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to suspend the HHA’s request for a demolition review. I cannot in good conscience support any demolition of Lyman Terrace – total or partial – until our citizens have ample opportunity to have their voices heard regarding the community needs there. I will not seek approval for any action until a comprehensive plan, crafted with community input, is in place. This policy will affect lives in tangible ways, and people should have every right to reclaim the stake they have in our city’s future.

I have reached out to housing experts outside of the city for their support in assisting the HHA. As a result, I can proudly announce a partnership between the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. To the HHA’s credit, they have demonstrated good faith in following my lead moving forward; they have agreed to work closely with these organizations. Through rigorous community involvement – especially of Lyman Terrace’s residents – these organizations will assist our city and the HHA to develop a comprehensive plan for the area bordered by the first level canal, Lyman Street, Dwight Street, and High Street.

And finally, I am calling on the HHA to be more responsive to the immediate needs of Lyman Terrace’s tenants. Planning for Lyman’s future does not mean ignoring its present, and there is no reason that the basic upkeep of the property should be neglected.

It is important that we get this right. And in order to so, we must take advantage of these new partners and the resources they will provide. Coming up with a plan for this part of Center City will be a community effort. We will use our new resources to guarantee our citizens a seat at the planning table – by holding public hearings, providing interpreters, and whatever else is necessary to ensure their voices are heard.

I do not know what a renovated Lyman Terrace will look like when this process is completed; that will depend greatly on the input of residents, businesses, and property owners. What I do know is that the plan must be consistent with a long-term vision for our downtown as a diverse, densely populated, vibrant, and prosperous place. The rehabilitated complex should properly connect to its surrounding amenities. Furthermore, it should include key components that the current property lacks: more green spaces, sufficient parking, and a community center.

The revitalization of our downtown depends on the energy of the people who live there and love our city, not merely the buildings that line the streets. Holyoke was built to accommodate 60,000 people. Growing our population must entail keeping people in Holyoke, not forcing them out. It is true that some tenant relocation is inevitable as we improve Lyman Terrace; but in the event of such relocation, the HHA needs to have a plan that gives as many residents as possible the option to relocate in our city. And when the improvements are completed, those residents that wish to return to the redeveloped Lyman Terrace should have priority placement to do so. These folks are the ones who have worked for years to maintain and beautify their homes, and they deserve a fair chance to reclaim the improved neighborhood.

I know our city is up to this task. We understand the stakes. Indeed, our resolution of this issue will say a great deal about who we are as a community. Working together, we can ensure not only an improved downtown, but also a more just and decent community for us all to share, and to which we all may contribute.

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

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

123 Newton Street demolition

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

We Are Holyoke

2012/01/31 in Activism, Alex Morse, Elections, H.U.S.H., Mayor, Rob Deza, Youth

Once again Rob Deza and I’m Nobody Productions has created another work that captures the Holyoke spirit.  …and what great source material, Alex’s speech was wonderful.

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.

Alex Morse sworn in as mayor of Holyoke

2012/01/03 in Alex Morse, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Mayor, Press

Happy New Year!

A Good Day in Holyoke(photo and audio by Bugink Avocado)

Transcript of Alex Morse’s Inaugural Address:

My fellow citizens of Holyoke:

I stand before you today grateful for the trust you have placed in me and humbled by the scale of the task before us. I’d like to express my undying gratitude, also, to my family and friends who have encouraged me every step of this journey.

Today marks a turning of the page on the old ways of doing politics in this city. It has been many years since Holyoke has stood at the threshold of such transformation; and I, as your mayor, am honored to help shape Holyoke’s future with you. The time for petty obstructions to progress is over. The time for waiting is past; the time for renewing our highest ideals and for remembering our better history is now. When I look at Holyoke today, I see what our Holyoke forebears saw when they created the Paper City of the World: a city of limitless possibility.

We have all heard those who say that Holyoke’s best days are long past. We have heard that Holyoke’s best bet is for us to just settle, and to resign ourselves to a future that is beneath our highest aspirations. For far too long, this narrative has pervaded this city and the morale of its people; too many have internalized these notions as true, as somehow inescapable realities of the Holyoke experience. As a result, many of Holyoke’s citizens have been disheartened and discouraged; too many have been overwhelmed by the frustration of seeing their best efforts and hopes for Holyoke fail to result in real, substantive progress.

Now, I understand the magnitude of the many challenges before us, and I am mindful of my own limitations to remedy them. But I also understand that the days of resignation are over. In November’s election, the citizens of Holyoke made their voices heard; and what those voices joined together to proclaim was that this election was – emphatically – about the future of the city of Holyoke. The voters rejected the gridlock and stagnation of the past. Today, we rededicate ourselves to the betterment of this community. We will not achieve every goal we desire in just one election or even one mayoral term. But I have no doubt that we will meet these challenges – boldly, fearlessly, and with the proud, fighting spirit that defines our people.

Throughout my time in this city, I have seen this spirit made manifest in the lives of ordinary citizens every day – people who often go unnoticed, but who contribute to our community in countless ways. And over the past year, as a candidate, seeing this spirit has never ceased to move me.

I saw it in the countless folks who stopped by headquarters, offering their help in myriad, small ways – people with their own busy lives who nonetheless sought to give support in whatever ways they could.

I saw it in the elderly man I met in the Flats – a man who could not speak a word of English, but who registered to vote for the first time in his life.

I saw it in the young kids – kids too young to even vote – who were enthused and impassioned about the capacity of our political process.

I saw it in a conversation I had with a woman in Elmwood Towers, in which she reminisced fondly about her days growing up in Holyoke, and who felt hopeful about the city’s future.

And I saw it in a young couple I met while door-knocking – a couple that had just moved in and that, despite the prevailing stigmas about their new hometown, were overwhelmed by the sense of community and belonging they had already begun to feel.

My experience on the campaign reaffirmed my deeply held belief that Holyoke’s greatest asset is, and has always been its people. And that Holyoke’s citizens reflect both diversity and a shared destiny, an overarching sense of common purpose. As I stand before you today, I do not shrink from the tasks before us because I know these folks and each and every one of you will be with me every step of the way.

Let us guarantee for our children the right to a sound education, one that will prepare them to compete in a 21st century economy and to contribute meaningfully to our society. I stand before you today because of the education I received in the Holyoke public schools. I am a product of Holyoke schools from pre-school through my graduation at Holyoke High. My experience taught me that it truly takes a village to raise a child. And that, had it not been for the people who took responsibility for my education, I would not be here today. It is time to restore that sense of responsibility. It is time for us to remember the common stake we have in one another, and that we must be responsible for all of Holyoke’s children, regardless of what they look like or what neighborhood they’re from. I know this is possible because I’ve lived it. And when I look at my parents here today, I know that they never would have imagined that their child would one day be their city’s mayor.

Next, let us lay the foundation for economic growth that can be sustained over the long-term and that gives our youth good reason to stay and work in Holyoke. Because, let’s be honest: what use will a good education be if our kids then find nowhere to work and contribute? Just as our predecessors saw in Holyoke everything they needed for the creation of the Paper City, I now see everything we need to become the Digital City, and for an economy based on art, innovation, and technology. The high tech computing center will be completed this year. And already, businesses are showing an interest in relocating to our community. For art and innovation, we need look no further than the talented folks already in this city, who need only be supported. Our people need a more conducive environment to create and imagine new ideas. It is time to eradicate the myth that people don’t want to work, and instead, give them good reason to work, by providing sound opportunities for the future.

Necessarily connected to fixing our education system and cultivating economic development is the task of keeping our streets safe. We know that if kids have productive things to do, and meaningful opportunities, we can prevent them from seeking their livelihoods in crime. Looking at community safety requires a holistic approach, and we all know that if we foster a sense of community and reinforce the stake we all have in one another’s lives, our city will be safer. But that requires time and the laying of firm foundations. Right now, we must begin to restore the relationship between our distinguished police officers and our communities. We must bolster neighborhood watch programs, increase bike and foot patrol, and provide common folks with a voice in providing recommendations to the police department. I will work very closely with both the fire department and the police department to make sure we come up with common sense approaches to keeping our people safe. Through these steps, I hope to rebrand Holyoke’s image and to make our city an appealing place for businesses and visitors.

As we do these things – improve education, foster economic development, and ensure public safety – let our guiding light be a love for this city. Let us remember that we all want what’s best for our hometown. And that in no other city in this nation are the people more considerate, generous, and compassionate. We hold values that are not subject to the changing winds of time; they endure and continue to define us. Our resilience. Our pride. Our concern for the plight of others. The belief that when hardship befalls one of us, it affects us all; that your child’s education matters just as much as somebody else’s child’s, or as much as my niece’s and nephew’s; that public safety in our downtown matters as much to residents of Ward Seven as it does to residents of Ward One. As Holyokers, we recognize that we cannot walk alone. I know there are many whose votes I have not yet earned; and that, despite our best efforts, we will not always agree with one another. But I also know that we don’t need to see eye-to-eye to walk hand-in-hand; and that we are never stronger than when we are united.

The work begins today. And we begin our work knowing that we are part of a process that is larger than ourselves, and that will continue long after we’re gone. Before us is the opportunity to shape this city’s future for generations to come. Let us seize this moment. Let this term be remembered as the time Holyoke began to make inroads in its longstanding challenges, and paved the way for a safer, more just, and decent community to unfold – one that is worthy of its proud citizens. Lest we forget, we are Holyoke. As long as we remember that, there is no way we can fail.

Thank you, Holyoke.

The 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

Vote Wednesday

2011/11/06 in Alex Morse, Elections, Facebook, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Mayor, Pluta

Actual Facebook Ad from Team Pluta:

(I kid you not)

If you need rides to the polls on Tuesday or Wednesday please call: (413) 885-0724.

Holyoke Mayoral Candidates on WGBY

2011/11/03 in Alex Morse, Art, Boob Tube, Casino, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Mayor, Pluta, Vimeo, WGBY

For those that missed it – Pluta and Morse on Connecting Point.

 

 Wampum points and jobs for the poor = pennies on the dollar.

 

 

Team Pluta Photoshop

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

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

(Lisi = null)

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

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

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

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

Audio from the Morse and Pluta Debate

2011/10/27 in Alex Morse, Casino, Elections, H.U.S.H., Lies, Mayor, Mike Plaisance, Pluta, Politics, Press, pronography

One Ring To Rule Them All

 

 

(What is up with the large rings that Mike Plaisance wears?  I hear he also has an impressive collection of pewter dragons.)

Everyone looked sharp last night.  Both Pluta and Plaisance were sporting new hairdos.  Though, it was odd to see that Pluta dyed her hair to match Morse’s color?  I was told that this was this was Nelson Roman’s decision.  Bad call, dude.  Also, Elaine walked in wearing this leopard fur collared coat.  She looked fabulous but it was slightly over the top…  something that I’d expect to see worn at a five-star resort rather than the sober event that is a political debate.  Morse did wear a great tie.  I must admit, I lament the fall of Gaddafi for one very good reason…  they have returned to the pre-1969 and post-colonization flag.  I think most flags to be ugly and too busy.  The Libyan flag of recent times was an amazing austere solid field of green, my favorite color…  I think that everyone presented themselves very well with their answers.  Both Pluta and Morse have run good campaigns with the exception of a few wrinkles on Pluta’s part with the “agenda money”, which was mostly addressed in this debate.

I have got to fault Plaisance on a few of his questions.  At first I thought he was biased towards Pluta but then it became clear that he’s biased to sensationalism.  First he twists words from Morse’s campaign about what Morse will bring to the office of mayor and that if he is bringing those things does that not imply that she is lacking them?  A negative campaign does attack the other player, but he’s really speaking the truth here – and mostly about himself.  Let’s be honest here…  If you watch Pluta she’s not at all energetic.  She shuffles about like zombie, uses almost no body-language and when she tries to speak with emotion she sounds all monotone like Donald Duck.  As far as vision, we can all have different opinions about a casino…  Pluta has been a strong supporter of Holyoke as a host city, lobbied for us in Boston and received campaign contributions from those involved.  Then she praises Taco Bell?  If this is part of her vision, then I must say it is indeed lacking.  The idea that we must base success, jobs and tax revenue on vice and fast food is absurd.  Sure, gambling should be legal, but I’d prefer back room and bar gambling to some billion dollar monument to sickness.  Resources can be much better spent.  The new legislation that Deval will sign into law is several steps backwards for our great state.  Then, this troll hunter goes on to bring up Morse’s age.  Has this not already been beaten to death and deemed a non-issue?  He’s running a solid professional campaign, he’s serious and obviously he has what it takes.  Could we not have asked questions about issues, ideas and leadership rather than this bullshit?  Maybe if that were the case those that may have doubts about him would learn more than directly addressing the prejudice.  We all know how old he is.    Plaisance did take his turn with Pluta, asking her about her claim of  having “the fight of her political life” and why does Morse “come out of nowhere” as a serious challenge to her position?  It would have been much more useful to those witnessing the debate to get beyond the tabloid nonsense and instead to issues in Holyoke .   These questions really did not cover any new ground for most of those in attendance and were a serious waste of time.

I don’t dislike Pluta.  I just don’t think the results match her claims.  I’ve witnessed much poor communication and bad ideas come from her in a brief two years.  I do feel some sort of pity for her, I feel that she wants to do good for the city, but honestly, she does not have what it takes and the whole casino issue is a major flaw.  I also think that she did not run an honest campaign at times.  Those several different letters that went out concerning “agenda” and “out of town money” were downright sleazy fear-mongering.  Sure…  if I was watching this campaign from afar and I was not connected to the city or its politics I might actually donate to someone like Alex because it is downright inspiring.  Speaking of good ideas and the digital age I do stuff like this all the time with organizations like Kickstarter, Kiva and various activist groups – I give more money out of town and out of the country than I do locally.  Good ideas and progress are just that…  so it  really is no matter where they are happening…  but of course, when hits home like we see here it is really wonderful.

I consider this election over.  Morse is going to win.  I had my doubts at first but there really is no way that the majority of Holyoke is that dim that they would agree that  things are on the right path or that Elaine has proven herself thus far.  It really has been a long time.  We need some real leadership now.  (and responsible media in the form of a daily newspaper)

Listen for yourself:

 

Alex Morse Speaks at the Artist Forum

2011/10/24 in Alex Morse, Art, Development, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Jobs, Mayor, Politics

Destination Holyoke.

A view of Race Street during a combined PCS80 and Parsons Hall Project Space Event

As mentioned in a previous post Dean Nimmer organized a meeting with Holyoke artists to discuss the city’s commitment to the arts and the possibilities of a “SOHO effect” of revitalization via the arts here in our city.  Alex Morse did seem to say what the group wanted to hear and he appears to have an understanding of the importance of an art community to urban success from his work in downtown Providence RI; a city that has seen much of its revival via public art and projects like AS220.  From my perspective, the group that was in that room witnessing tonight’s event makes up one of the cities greatest assets.  These folks have invested a lot of resources and sweat equity into the development of a downtown destination for artist in work spaces and for the public with open studios and galley / performance events.  It only makes sense that the city should work with a group that has had such great results with their successful DIY efforts at making Holyoke a cultural destination.

Full Audio of the event.

Thanks to Dean for organizing, thanks to Scott for use of the space and thanks to Alex for being there.

On Sunday October 30 at 6 pm the forum will conclude with a visit from Mayor Elaine Pluta

Audio quality is not the best…  there was no PA or audience mics and some environmental noise that needed removal.  I did the best I could with my field recorder and software – sound improves a lot after the heating system in the room shuts off.

Thanks.

Attention all Holyoke registered voters.

2011/10/18 in Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Jobs, Mailbag, Mayor, Pluta

I was forwarded this email:

 
From:scottben4one3@aol.com
Sent: October 12, 2011 10/12/11
To:benny.scott82@gmail.com
Subject: Attention all Holyoke registered voters….please read!!
 

Dear voters,

With the Holyoke mayoral election fast approaching, there’s something I’d like the voters of the great city of Holyoke to know about our current mayor, Elaine Pluta. Mayor Pluta claims she’s committed to creating jobs and helping small businesses within our city, but as an employee for a small business in Holyoke, I’ve witnessed first hand that this isn’t always the case. Crabtree’s Service Station, Inc., and Reardon’s Garage have been performing city contracted towing services in Holyoke for the past 12 years, providing efficient and quality service to its customers and the Holyoke Police Department. After Mayor Pluta was elected two years ago, the contract that had been renewed yearly for 11 years was rewritten. A third towing company wished to be put on the rotation. No problem, except that the third company was Hampshire Towing, a company based in South Hadley and operating primarily in Hampshire county. Hampshire Towing has a state-of-the-art facility, in South Hadley, and numerous trucks, with all taxes being paid to the town of South Hadley. In their defense, they do own a small piece of run down property in Holyoke. Great for South Hadley, not for Holyoke. Crabtree’s Service Station and Reardon’s Garage have been family-owned, tax paying small businesses in Holyoke since the 1930′s. Every single towing employee is a resident and tax payer in our great city, whereas Hampshire Towing employs no Holyoke residents. The inclusion of Hampshire Towing in Holyoke’s municipal towing contract has cost the employees, as well as the owners of these long-standing businesses thousands of dollars in yearly revenue. The loss in revenue to the companies has forced the owners of these two businesses to reduce their workforce. So much for CREATING jobs and HELPING small businesses. The reason why Hampshire Towing is now included in the city contract, in my opinion as well as many others, is political cronyism/favoritism. Jeff Chesky, a major player on Mayor Pluta’s campaign committee, is cousin to Bill Johnson, owner of Hampshire Towing. Clearly a conflict of interest and a question of patronage. I have no problem with Hampshire Towing, as they are a skilled and reputable company, but they aren’t a Holyoke small business. They opened a small office in Holyoke only after it became financially beneficial to do so. I’m also sure that Hampshire Towing and/or Bill Johnson make hefty donations to Mayor Pluta’s re-election campaign, as it is in their best interest to do so. Holyoke is a small city, but it’s our city, and there’s no room for political cronyism or the good ol’ boy mentality. On November 8th, please show that this isn’t acceptable in or city. Help make the change this city needs. Please cast your vote for Alex Morse.

Sincerely,

Ben Scott