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Donald Wilcox Sues City of Holyoke and Geriatric Authority of Holyoke

2014/05/19 in Absurd, Alex Morse, GAH, Lawsuit, Mailbag, MGL, Patti Devine, Whistleblower

An anonymous email sent to me included photographs of documents outlining a lawsuit by recently terminated Donald Wilcox – former COO, CFO and executive director of the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke – against the City of Holyoke and the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke with allegations of discrimination and harassment by Patricia Devine, and that his termination was retribution against him for his whistle blowing to state agencies of ongoing impropriety at the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke.  Devine, then chairwoman of the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke board of directors resigning soon after this debacle because she “could no longer give the time and personal effort that the important position deserves”.  Well, for those that have been paying attention it does appear that she has newly found capacity because, while it is not officially announced, we are hearing folks congratulate her on her appointment to the Fire Commission.  What kind of damage can she do there?

.Here are the documents in full, sorry about the quality, these are photos by a still camera, not a scanner, enjoy:

Donald_Wilcox_v_GAH.pdf

7 pages, 4.1MB

H.U.S.H. in the Advocate again.

2011/12/28 in Activism, Art, At-large, C.R.U.S.H., Casino, Chickens, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Mailbag, Patti Devine, Press, pronography

The Halos and Horns edition gives Patti Devine her second (or third?) set of horns; this time for her bullying of CRUSH to censor my work.

Thanks to the Advocate for your continued support of Holyoke and your stand-up defense of free expression.

…and special thanks to Patti.  What would we do without a nemesis?  I am indeed somewhat sad that you lost.  You were inspiration.  Most of all, thank you for coining the term ‘pronography‘.  That was brilliant.  I hope you have a happy New Year.

For those arriving for the first time here is the back story:

Meet Our Founder

H.U.S.H. in the news

H.U.S.H. Mailbag

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

H.U.S.H. in the Advocate again.

Potty Divine

 

 

 

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

2011/11/09 in Activism, At-large, Chickens, Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Mike Plaisance, Patti Devine

There’s a saying…

(Hot off the press, here’s Patti’s thank you / victory ad in today’s Repuke)

…don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

Morse’s win is delightful, but this, here…  it is savory.  At the same time, there is some remorse to losing one’s nemesis.  In some ways I will miss Patti.

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

Audio from the October 20th City Council Candidate Forum

2011/10/20 in Audio, Bresnahan, Casino, Charter, Council, Development, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Jobs, Lies, Patti Devine, Politics, Press, Vega

 Audio from the October 20th City Council Candidate Forum held at Dean Tech High School.

 

The event was sparsely attended and was lacking H.U.S.H.’s favorite candidate Patti Devine.  Rumor has it that she was afraid to show up because I was recording the event and planned on editing her statements into a musical remix.  Rosado and Murphy’s main-squeeze McGee also had better things to do, but McGee was later seen in the audience during the At-Large portion of the forum. Rosado and McGee had placards with their name and empty seats.  The same should have been done for Devine, not sure why she gets special treatment here.

The format was a little odd with a different setup for the Ward versus the At-Large candidates.  The Ward candidates were able to ask the opponent a question and then have rebuttal where the At-Large were fielded questions, some repeated, asked by representatives of The Republican and El Pueblo Latino.  As a result the At-Large forum did seem to cover a lot more ground.  The issues of the night were casinos, attracting business with our tax rate and the charter question.

I do need to gripe about the audio…  next time rent some mics so that each person has one, put foam wind-screens on them and before the event explain to the candidates that they need to not touch their lips to the mic when speaking.  6″-8″ away and a normal speaking voice should be used.

If there was one clear winner here it is Gordon Alexander.  Sure, many of these folks might not have public speaking as their forte and might be nervous up there…  and certainly Jourdain, Tallman and McGiverin presented themselves very well, but of the newcomers it was Alexander that stood out.  I did speak to him after saying that I wished I lived in Ward 7 so I could vote for him.  Menwer was also a pleasant surprise.  I probably will be voting for him (and finding out who is his dentist).  If there was one person that looked like they did not belong there it was Brenna Murphy.  She appeared as if she was extremely bored.  Maybe lemon-faced is simply her normal demeanor but she does lack the charisma that sells candidates in the media – maybe she should have taken Devine’s cue and pulled a no-show…  I doubt that she won any votes with her performance.

There was a good deal of intentional and unintentional humor.  Tallman did declare that “we should not sell Holyoke short, so vote for the tall man”.  Yes, I will be voting for him and he is indeed tall.  Though, I do wish he’d invest in some pants that fit him as it was his bare shins exposed by his high-waters that kept distracting my attention.  Bresnahan went on a wonderful tangent about internal organs and sexual intercourse.  I am glad I have all that recorded, his dialog will be uploaded into my sampler this weekend.  Murphy stated that she went to college “because her parents told her to”…  obviously, she’s running for office for that very same reason.   Purcell claimed that some of the folks on stage were criminals.  He’s correct, but it was just funny to hear it said.  Vega was vague when asked about the charter question and wasted his time explaining to the audience that he did not want to tell people how to vote on the issue – thanks, we know how we are voting on the issue – we wanted to know where you stood.  Leahy expressed his love for some of the people in Holyoke, not all of them.  Fletcher claimed that the only crime to speak of at casinos is children and pets locked in cars at the parking lots?!?  Good stuff!

Listen for yourself…

 Ward Councilors:

At Large Councilors:

 

H.U.S.H. Mailbag

2011/10/17 in Activism, Admin, Art, C.R.U.S.H., H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Lies, Mailbag, Patti Devine, pronography

Since I added the contact page on the website here my mailbox has been flooded.  While most of the communications are laden with swears, threats and insults, not suitable for printing at a family friendly website like H.U.S.H.; there were two that stood out.

First from Robert Markey:

James -

Read about your Patti Devine censorship in the Advocate.  Just wanted to send my total support to you.  I’ve dealt with censorship a number of times – most recently in Springfield when they painted over my pole dancer in the Sneaker project.  Sounds like you do great work – keep on truckin’.

Bob

Thanks Bob.  I remember your story when I read about it in the Republican and on Masslive.  I actually commented on your plight and in your support here on Masslive.  Robert Markey’s work can be seen here.

An anonymous reader sent me this:

Hi:

There are some who might regard your “harassment” of Councilor Devine as proof of karma. Some still remember how Devine and others harassed former Holyoke police chief, and whistleblower, Robert Wagner which led to Wagner v. Devine III 388.

The case against Devine and the others was dismissed because it was found that they were within their rights. Eventually she had a sandwich named after her, which might still be available at Pat’s. As I never ate a Patti Devine, I couldn’t say if it was any good.

Thanks

I had heard mention of the case and of course the sandwich but I never thought about the karmic retribution here or for that matter read the actual court of appeals documents.  Very interesting.  Thanks anonymous.  Oh, I love seeing the scare quotes, just like the Advocate.  Obviously not harassment, people.

H.U.S.H in the news.

2011/10/15 in Activism, C.R.U.S.H., Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Law, Lies, Patti Devine, Politics, Press, pronography

I’d like to welcome all our readers from the Valley Advocate.

On Thursday October 13th the Valley Advocate ran this story.

Tom Vannah wrote the story based on a letter that I sent to him, which is essentially the same text of a previous post here on H.U.S.H. with the exception of the last paragraph which was replaced with this:

Personally, I am offended by CRUSH’s decision to capitulate to her bullying but that is not what is important and it is not why I write.  I am writing in hopes that this would make for a story.  I think it is indeed a good one something here about the story deserving the attention of a publication like The Advocate to give a well balanced account, something the daily newspapers do not have either the time for or interest in doing. When I talked to Mike Plaisance (the Republican reporter) I was let known that he did see the threatening email that Patti sent to the Chamber of Commerce and the Taxpayers Association.  However, the way that the Republican handled the story it only dealt with nuance and some of the drama.  It did not go into what I think is the real story which is a government official using threats and bullying to suppress legitimate public speech because it was criticism and satire directed at her.

I am pleased to see the image in print.  The story does hit to the heart of the matter but does seem to leave out a bit of detail.  We were supposed to speak about the article before it went to press.  I was away for the weekend and when Mr Vannah contacted me I was not in an environment that would have allowed discussion.  We were not able to connect when I tried to get back to him and then it was past deadline.  I did want to discuss my reasons for the image and what I thought of the C.R.U.S.H. admin peeing in their boots in the face of baseless threats, but alas, that did not happen.

I have had a number of dialogs in person, in email and on Facebook about Mr Vannah’s comments over publication and submissions at the Valley Advocate.  He says:

That said, the Valley Advocate doesn’t publish every word or image that its staff or freelance correspondents produce or that it receives from outside sources. The material that makes it into the paper each week has survived fairly rigorous scrutiny; in the end, we reject far more —endless press releases; mountains of op-ed pieces; scads of political cartoons; product pitches; a suprising number of unsolicited manuscripts and artworks from fledgling writers; staff-written pieces that need more work before they’ll see the light of day—than we accept.

I have heard people say that this is a parallel to the idea that CRUSH is a publisher or has editorial control over the content.  I don’t read it as such.  I cannot speak directly to what Mr Vannah’s intent was here but I do think that the next paragraph speaks quite clearly:

So when I heard about the troubles of Holyoke artist James Bickford and the decision by the activist group Citizens for the Revitalization and Urban Success of Holyoke (C.R.U.S.H.) to remove a series of his images from its public forum, claiming that the images constituted a form of “harrassment,” I groaned. I suspected that although Bickford’s images would fall completely under the protection of the First Amendment, they would also be highly offensive, perhaps lewd and probably gratuitous. I braced myself for the disagreeable job of defending something disagreeable.

He’s saying that the images were valid and he puts “scare quotes” around “harassment” (and later “harassing”) because they were indeed not.  The Steering Committee had a disclaimer that  Libel and Harassment were reasons to delete content.  My work was not harassment but the Steering Committee called it so to fit with the disclaimer.  They had no reason to censor.  Mr Vannah’s comments on the publishing of the story was the result of his finding humor in the images when his expectation was that C.R.U.S.H. deleted something that was offensive.

That is all for now.

 

 

Meet Our Founder

2011/09/27 in Activism, Art, C.R.U.S.H., Council, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Patti Devine, Politics, pronography

Potty Divine

I would like to bring to your attention a story concerning a member of the elected government who has employed bulling and threats of a libel lawsuit in order to suppress speech over a altered image of her that was intended to publicly lampoon this candidate.

Patti Devine is an at-large city councilor up for re-election here in Holyoke.  I have been concerned about her obstructionist and anti-progress motives as a member of our elected government and as my representative on the council.  There were a number of votes and opinions by her that I had issue with:  She cast the sole vote against the Library renovation; opposition to the Responsible Employer Ordinance that would insure that corporations setting up businesses in the city would hire Holyoke residents or provide opportunities for workforce training apprenticeships; opposition to the bottle bill; her general idea that job creation comes from courting big box businesses like Lowe’s or the likes of a casino; and she was the most outspoken opponent to the well thought out chicken ordinance that would have allowed residents to maintain hens in backyard coops.

Speaking directly to the Chicken Ordinance, this was a one year ~50 trial license for citizens that had the space with volunteer inspectors to reduce efforts by the Health Department – basically overturning a racist 1970′s anti-fowl ordinance that was established to isolate the Puerto Rican population.  She tried to shut down discussion of the ordinance before it was even sent to Ordinance Committee, and at a later meeting when proponents to the ordinance came to speak in the council chambers it was Devine that insisted that citizens state whether they owned or rented their homes before being allowed to voice their opinion about the issue.  Essentially, your opinion being valid only if you pay property taxes and marginalizing the voice of the poor in the city.  This year her opposition to this ordinance fight is a large part of her current re-election campaign.

I am a member of CRUSH (Citizens for the Revitalization and Urban Success of Holyoke).  I am a member, not part of the steering committee and not a   spokesperson for CRUSH.  The CRUSH website allows users to create events, make blog posts, organize in groups, maintain personal pages and upload images much like other social networking sites.  Here I posted my image of Patti Devine – an image of her manipulated to make her look like “The Joker” – an image we are all too familiar – and including the text below the image “SLOTH”.  Some have said that she is not a sloth and that my image misrepresents her because she actually works very hard against progress.  Well, that is where I go the idea.  She’s the type that will keep this city from moving forward.  Along with the image of Devine I also posted manipulated photos of the mayoral candidates Dan Boyle and Dan Burns with the intent to lampoon a number of politicos in the city.  I had only got around to the three when the nonsense began.  Ms Devine, upon catching wind of the existence of her image, immediately contacted the media stating her intent to seek legal assistance to remove the image.  “This is no laughing matter” she said (read: “oh, no! people are laughing at me!”).  I was contacted by a member of CRUSH and I was provided a number to contact Mike Plaisance at the Republican newspaper.  I told the CRUSHer that I’d take full responsibility and say that the images were mine alone and not the voice of CRUSH (which claims a non-partisan political statement).  I also made a blog post at CRUSH with a public apology, my statement concerning any discussion of censorship and little FU to some jackasses that were over the top in their ass-kissing of Patti – because, she’s a human, after all.  Censorship was not yet discussed, only hinted at by a person not on the steering committee and what I figured would be the next conversation.  The story was published in the Republican and posted online at Masslive.

The next day the images were gone.  I caught wind of this from a Canadian.  This person is no longer on the steering committee but had heard the decision through the grapevine.  Also, from a number of other people in Holyoke, I was passed an email that they had received from Patti directly or forwarded to them.  The email reads:

From: “mailto:pattidee23@verizon.net”
Date: Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 6:53 AM
Subject: Fwd: RE: CRUSH web site photos
To: (an email list that was abused)

Please read this from below.  It’s a shame that this type of thing is allowed by the group CRUSH (Citizens for the Revitilization and Urban         Success of Holyoke).  We have tried in vain to have these pictures removed without success.  Apparently these disgusting pictures that were posted on their web site (CRUSH of Holyoke), are considered “ART” and will not be removed.  And for this “Pronoblem” person who posted the pictures and wrote about Mayor Pluta below to consider this art is pathetic.

We are asking everyone in our email contacts to go to the site, read the online story of CRUSH (masslive.com – politics – Holyoke) and then forward this to their own contacts.  These pictures were also put on facebook and I understand a complaint has been filed.  Unfortunately CRUSH does have a disclaimer that goes unnoticed, and has no mechanism to remove posts or remove people from their “social network”.

I believe Dan Boyle’s picture is particularly offensive, but this is considered “art” by CRUSH.  If you click on each picture, there are messages there, particularly on Dan Burn’s photo.  It’s a shame that one rotten apple has spoiled the efforts of CRUSH, but so be it.  They could have taken appropriate measures but did nothing.

This s a group that seems to want to do good things in Holyoke, but then how can you take them seriously when they allow this garbage.  What’s next?  Pornagraphy via cutting and pasting?  We are asking that the Chamber of Commerce, the Latino Chamber of Commerce and the Holyoke Taxpayers Association ban CRUSH from their sponsorship of the upcoming October debates.  We are hoping that these professional groups (unlike the childness of people associated with CRUSH) will heed our call.

Remember – you are who you are associated with.  If CRUSH wants to be  taken seriously, then they need to act it.

Thank you.  Please fell free to forward this to your contacts and boycott any events sponsored by this group CRUSH.

 …and there was this one that was forwarded to me:

Dear Rory and Christine:

I am writing you in hopes that not only will you have these pictures removed from your web site, but in addition remove this James Bickford as well.

I quote from your own disclaimer:

Harassing activity such as spam and libelous misrepresentation will result in immediate removal from the network.” I take this to mean remove the person, not the photo.

I am asking you personally to remove these photos and remove him as well. This is not the way to get your message across. You may say you don’t censor anyone but perhaps you should. You should create a link to have garbage like this removed like they do in masslive. I didn’t even know these were on your site, but someone called me to let me know they were on facebook. Then I went to your site.

This person is bringing your organization down. Not only did he post these pictures on your site, but facebook as well. He may think this is art, but his art is having a profound negative effect on your site.

What if someone posts something pronographic? Is that allowed to stay on? Is that person allowed to stay on? You need to take this seriously, particularly when your organization sponsors events with other organization like the Chamber, the Boys and Girls Club, etc. I’ve heard from people that are actually going to boycott anything you do now, particularly the debates. This has not bode well in the community. And regardless of what you think, the fact that these pictures and he remains as a member does reflect negatively on CRUSH.

He puts your group into a very serious predicament to be sued as well.

I am seeking legal recourse against him, art or no art. I am also hoping that you will do the right thing and remove him and those pictures today.

Thank you.

Patti

That first email, I am told, went out to the Chamber of Commerce and Holyoke Taxpayers association email lists.  Bad enough she is threatening what would amount to a SLAPP suit with no legal leg to stand in; I am not sure if she should be abusing these email lists with her attempts at harassing CRUSH.  That in itself should be investigated.

An official statement was issued by CRUSH outlining their decision to capitulate to the bully and another story appeared in the Republican and online at Masslive detailing the actions of the CRUSH steering committee.

Further adding to the bullying that exists in the shadowy world that is Holyoke’s mafia styled politics and the typical of the hateful bile that one witnesses on Masslive, there were a number of anonymous comments issued – now deleted – from these Masslive articles.  The irony in these is that most of them were angry insults about my “hiding behind the 1st Amendment” while they posted from their mother’s basements using the anonymity of a screen name.  In these comments my girlfriend was threatened, I was told, “I should not worry about being censored, rather I should worry about having my skull broken” and that “I should watch my back”.  Her supporters are genuinely nice people.

The opinion of many here is that she was simply waiting for an opportunity to discredit CRUSH because the steering committee has two council members that she considers threatening as they are outsiders to the good ‘ol boy cronyism that is embedded in city politics…  and that CRUSH, a grassroots organization, wants to “Northampton-ize” our fair city.  We should not forget that in 2010 Patti did receive the well deserved Valley Advocate’s dishonor of “Horns” for her opposition to the chicken ordinance and in 2011 CRUSH won the Best of the Valley award for activism; beating out groups like Project No One Leaves, ARISE, Food Bank of Western Mass.  This award reeks about as much as Obama’s Nobel Prize with his now five wars, expanded war chest and continued rendition flights to torture prisons constructed under his admin.

It was said by Patti that I was “bringing the organization down”.  The Steering Committee decision sets a far worse precedent than some absurd lampooning in Photoshop found online.  CRUSH is now divided.  One person took their ball and left when they saw the images.  A number of others have contacted me in support.  A couple of folks are quitting the organization due to the censorship.  It seems all too extreme from both sides.  Sure, personally, I am offended by CRUSH’s decision to capitulate to her bullying…  sure, I would have worked with the steering committee had they contacted me before they began to discuss a vote to censure.  That is not at all what is important here and it is not why I write.  I am writing in the hopes that people would see the heart of the issue which is a government official using threats and bullying to suppress legitimate public speech because it was criticism and satire directed their way and that the Republican failed in its coverage of this story.