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Holyoke Voters Guide from HUSH.

2012/11/05 in Council, Democrats, Economics, Elections, Federal, Green Party, H.U.S.H., Hobert, Holyoke, Imperialism, Politics, Purcell, Vacon, Vega, War

Tomorrow, November 6th is Election Day

…and HUSH has provided this handy-dandy election guide:

FOR UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:

DR. JILL STEIN/ CHERI HONKALA

Dr. Jill Stein’s 2012 presidential campaign is what inspired me to finally join the Green-Rainbow Party. Here is a caring, compassionate and sincere candidate whose knowledge of the various issues and their consequences is unimpeachable and whose presence in debates past and present has shifted the parameters of political discourse in the Commonwealth during her 2002 gubernatorial run and have hopefully helped us make greater strides towards shifting the parameters of political discourse throughout the United States. This is a contest about clean, environmentally responsible, and community responsive politics and the fundamental system-wide change desperately needed to bring us there. Vote your values, not your fears. Vote for universal healthcare, not universal warfare. President Obama has engaged us in more military combat operations than any prior US President in history; supported off shore drilling, fracking, and mountain top removal mining; and has beyond doubt the most draconian and Orwellian civil rights record of any US President since I dare say World War II – while former Governor W. Mitt Romney has surrounded himself with the most frighteningly neo-conservative band of foreign policy advisors since President George W. Bush, while enunciating positions regarding the social safety net that I quite frankly find abominable.

https://www.facebook.com/drjillstein

http://www.jillstein.org/

FOR UNITED STATES SENATOR:

WRITE-IN: MARISA DIFRANCO

The so-called “centrist” stance of the would be Modern Whig Party holds very little appeal to me. The movement has adopted stances regarding the national debt that I believe would invite economic contraction, a “Constitutionalist” attitude regarding federalism and separation of powers that I believe to be dangerous and ill advised, national defense fetishism. a stance regarding affirmative action that I believe backward and ignorant of how problems of institutional racism still affect us, and a cavalier disregard for the health care rights of women. Therefore, despite rather progressive positions that Bill Cimbrelo has otherwise adopted regarding immigration and universal health care, his write-in candidacy holds little appeal for me. The campaigns of both Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, have revealed foreign policy platforms still embracing a United States imperial mission and saber rattling against Iran each on the basis of misinformation; and neo-liberal education and economic policies I can in no way support.

Marisa DiFranco was the one truly progressive candidate this year seeking the US Senate seat, and yet the Democratic Party state convention in its infinite wisdom declined the voting public opportunity to debate and hear her stance on issues out of fears that she might reveal how truly far to the right the politics of Elizabeth Warren in fact are. We therefore had a Senate campaign highly detailed in terms of how the major candidates each could hurl mud at the other, but far less so dealing in the truly substantive issues that each campaign either lied about or neglected. If the Democratic Party has hopes to finally gain this Senate seat back again, they will have to nominate a genuine progressive like Marisa DiFranco to have the slightest bit of assistance from me.

FOR REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS, FIRST DISTRICT:

WRITE IN: BILL SHEIN

Bill Shein, of Alford, is the candidate whose steadfast embrace of progressive politics has impressed me the most during the Democratic Party primary contest – and although he has not apparently carried over his campaign as an independent challenger like I had hoped, I shall certainly make it a point to write him in. He refuses to find himself beholden to monied interests in Washington, opposes corporate personhood, and embraces a genuine environmentalist platform. Here’s a candidate who would have opposed vociferously the neo-liberal policy prescriptions that the Massachusetts Democratic Party leadership sadly has embraced wholeheartedly. Why vote for Richard Neal, who now runs unopposed? Please consider writing in the name of Bill Shein.

FOR SENATOR IN THE GENERAL COURT, SECOND HAMPDEN AND HAMPSHIRE

WRITE IN: RICHARD PURCELL

Richard Purcell is among the most energetic, gifted, determined and extraordinary social and economic justice activists and advocates I have ever met, and he’s the former Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor. Within this state Senate district, the Republican incumbent Michael Knapik is running unopposed, without even token Democratic and independent opposition. We can, and we must, do better. Rick Purcell would unquestionably do better. Write him in.

REPRESENTATIVE IN GENERAL COURT, FIFTH HAMPDEN DISTRICT

AARON VEGA

While I may have disagreed with Aaron Vega on a number of issues and have been critical of his lack of voice in the council on some other issues where I expected him to be a leading voice of forward thinking progressive ideas and he was not; he is the best choice on the ballot to be our representative in this election.  I also believe that with what was political pressure here that might have had him more concerned with image and political capital that he’d would best serve us away from all that in Boston rather than city council.  I do believe that he’ll work for Holyoke’s best interests in this role.  On top of that his competition is absolutely absurd.  Linda Vacon is a paranoid Tea-Party / Glenn Beck 9-12 patriot that is not fit to lead in any capacity – and not because of her politics; but because she is a legitimate simpleton.  Yes, you can have an MS in Nursing (or anything) and be a complete fool.  The other candidate, Jerome Hobert, began his career in a blatant fraud.  You can find his name on the Green Party line but he is by no way a representative of Green Party values nor is he endorsed by the Green Party – in fact, the party has filed a complaint with the State Election Commision against Mr. Hobert.  More details here.

FOR COUNCILLOR, EIGHTH DISTRICT

WRITE IN: PETER VICKERY

Peter Vickery, who was by far the most very progressive Councillor the body has yet seen, has continued to champion a long laundry list of social justice issues and progressive causes – and it is my fondest heart’s desire to see him seek office again. Michael Albano, beyond doubt, is a social liberal of the sort we should certainly hope to continue holding this seat. However, his political history within Springfield as Boss of one of the most thoroughly corrupt political machines in recent memory shall never sit well with me. Michael Franco, meanwhile, has an unfortunately quite homophobic and misogynist advocacy track record marking him as by far one of the most frighteningly far right candidates ever to seek office throughout the whole of Western Massachusetts.

BALLOT QUESTION #1: “RIGHT TO REPAIR”

MY VOTE IS NO

My belief is that “Right to Repair” remains a trojan horse for chain auto parts stores to duck regulations and unfairly compete with mechanics.  I had read much on both sides of this issue and was not certain where to stand until I spoke to the folks at my favorite shop, Garvulinski Service Station here in Holyoke which was postering for the “NO” stance.  In this case, however, the ballot measure remains in many ways moot as the State Legislature has already passed into law similar such legislation.

https://www.facebook.com/saynotoSB2204

BALLOT QUESTION #2: “PHYSICIAN ASSISTED SUICIDE”

MY VOTE IS NO

For what I believe to be very powerful and well reasoned arguments against the measure as written, I refer the reader to the following:

https://www.facebook.com/SecondThoughtsMA

http://www.second-thoughts.org/

BALLOT QUESTION #3: “MEDICINAL MARIJUANA”

MY VOTE IS YES

For what I believe to be very powerful and well reasoned arguments in support of the measure, I refer the reader to the following:

https://www.facebook.com/CommitteeForCompassionateMedicine

http://www.compassionforpatients.com/

NON BINDING: FUND OUR COMMUNITIES NOT WAR QUESTION:

MY VOTE IS YES

Full text of the question: “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress and the President to: (1) prevent cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans benefits, or to housing, food and unemployment assistance; (2) create and protect jobs by investing in manufacturing, schools, housing, renewable energy, transportation and other public services; (3) provide new revenues for these purposes and to reduce the long-term federal deficit by closing corporate tax loopholes, ending offshore tax havens, and raising taxes on incomes over $250,000; and (4) redirect military spending to these domestic needs by reducing the military budget, ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing U.S. troops home safely now?”

There is no reason not to get behind these proposals.  Of the top developed / industrialized nations the USA ranks bottom in almost every indicator concerning health, welfare and happiness.  We also rank #1 for disparity in wealth.  2011 was the largest profit year in history for oil companies and the military industrial contractors and manufacturers.  This is largely do to our efforts in Imperialism & nation building and our piss poor energy policies.  We need to work towards a renewable and post scarcity energy policy.  We need to get on a new path and take the $1 trillion (and growing) annually that we spend in our war efforts and put it better use.  Send a message to our leadership that we demand that elusive “change” .

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I’d like to thank Mr. Broadhurst for the lion’s share of the above text.  I’d also like to remind voters that when you go to the polls vote for that person that most represents you.  If you choose “lesser of evils” and select the candidate that you might disagree with on foreign policy issues like the murder of innocent people in the name of “security”; that despite your dislike of such policy your vote for that candidate is indeed approval for that policy to continue.  The duopoly and the illusion of choice that the RNC/DNC provides is indeed intentional.  The only people that benefit from their leadership in the executive and in congress is those that are their masters – and it is not the voting public…  it is those CEOs and shareholders that profit the most from US Imperialism and War.  The only way we can mend this nation (and, I believe, work towards survival of our species) is to end the two-party strangle-hold.  No matter who wins of the two mainstream it is a continual shift towards an imperial fascist-coroptocracy police surveillance state.  We need to take the power away via electoral politics before we see what is happening in Greece and Spain make it to our shores.  We are indeed headed in that direction and if that becomes the catalyst for change then so be it.  I just wish that the voting public would wake up before it comes to that.  We should look to Iceland for inspiration.

Pioneer Valley Green-Rainbow Party on the Hobert Campaign

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12-Sept-2012

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

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

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

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

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

Download (PDF, 73KB)

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For more information please contact:

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.

 

 

Audio from Apr-19-2012 Committee on Redevelopment regarding Lyman Terrace

2012/04/26 in Activism, Bresnahan, Gentrification, H.U.S.H., HHA, History, Holyoke, Lisi, Lyman Terrace, Vega

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

Outstanding

2011/10/30 in Activism, Art, Bresnahan, Charter, Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Holyoke, Lisi, Murphy, Politics, pronography, Vega

H.U.S.H. on the streets.

As HUSH readers witnessed in our readers poll we have decided to support Dan Bresnahan.  On a chilly October Saturday HUSH members stood out with our Bresnahan banner.  It was fun.  We did get a lot of smiles, honks and many hand gestures in the forms of waves, devil horns and a few middle fingers.  We certainly stuck out from the crowd and unfortunately may have detracted from other campaign efforts held at the Yankee Peddler corner.  Just as we were to wrap up our standout HUSH was blessed with a visit from Dan The Man himself (as seen in the image below).  He thanked us, offered to buy the banner and invited us to his victory party on election night.  Also on the scene were candidates Lisi, Vega and Murpy.

Dan, if you are reading this, the banner is $500.  Fair price for an original hand-painted design and almost $100 worth of paint and materials.  You can contact me via the contact link if you wish to purchase.  It will be available after the election as we do plan on standing out with it a couple more times.

Audio from the October 20th City Council Candidate Forum

2011/10/20 in Audio, 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:

 

Pants on Fire

2011/10/06 in C.R.U.S.H., Council, Elections, H.U.S.H., Lies, Mailbag, Politics, Press, pronography, Vega

Lies, Damn Lies and Chickens

(Yogi Vega offers his effluence to be dined upon by the cult of Vega)

I checked my email and low and behold I discover that there is an email from Aaron Vega calling me a liar!  He was referencing this post in his email.

He said:

from    Aaron Vega aaron@vegaforholyoke.com
to    pronoblem
date    Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 5:01 PM
subject    just for the record

Hello pronoblem

Just for the record I did vote for the chicken ordinance to go to committee – 1 of 3 or possibly 4 that did – I would have to look back to check.  I also publicly said in council that the conversation should be held and public comment should be welcome.  You can criticize me all you want just don’t spreads lies. Thank you.

Love the use of the GD bears on your endorsement flyer for DB – nice touch.

Good luck to you on your new h.u.s.h. endeavor.


Aaron Vega
Holyoke City Councilor at Large
www.vegaforholyoke.com

“Moving Holyoke Forward”

Smarmy!  To which I replied:

Not lies at all…   I had conversations with you.  You seemed to not support the idea …  said you were not sure as to the benefit of the ordinance to the city.  On further inquiry you said that you did not know facts concerning and that it was up to other councilors to educate you.  Then, after the fact, that “Holyoke is not ready”.  Seems like newspeak to me…  and that you did not support, thus helped it fail.  This is all editorial, if you do not agree, log in and comment.

Aaron replied:

Thank you pronoblem.

That’s it?  Sure, the post he referenced does say “before it went to committee” and he did vote for it to go to committee.  So he’s calling me a liar because he claims that he did vote for it to go to committee.  My point in the post that he references was that he helped it fail because he was not behind it regardless of that vote.  He opposed it before it was to go to committee.  He never supported it.  He was outspoken against it.  So, in not supporting it he helped it fail at whatever point it did fail in the process.

I sent another reply asking him to explain how my statement was a lie.  I heard no response.   I will post here my thoughts on this one.

Councilor Vega did have a post on his website explaining his position on the chicken order prior to its failure.  That post is now gone.  I could not find his website archived at archive.org but I was able to find the full story copy-and-pasted and some commentary at our sister site C.R.U.S.H located here (see page 2 of comments) and here.  (I did add his site to archive.org so that there will be snapshots made so that in the future such nonsense will be avoided) Aaron’s words:

Chickens In Holyoke

This has been the hot topic now for some weeks in Holyoke. I have answered many e-mails and phone calls regarding the issue.

Here is my e-mail response.

First, let me say that I am in favor of a local food movement, better access to food, urban farming and other forward thinking ideas around food. There are many examples across the country of how local food movements improve local economy, health and communities. The idea of keeping chickens for personal use is one aspect of an urban food plan. My main objection to the “chicken order” is that there is no current plan about how local urban farming could benefit Holyoke. The chicken topic is just the beginning of a conversation happening around the building and implementation of a local food movement. We have no way to enforce the conditions that would be put on such an order and no way to deal with folks who did not follow the order correctly.

I would be in favor of community gardens having chickens. I would also be in favor of chickens living in any properly zoned farming areas such as Nuestras Raices or out in West Holyoke.

As of now, I will not be supporting this order as I do not feel Holyoke is ready to properly deal with chickens throughout the city.

If you have any other questions or comments feel free to contact me.

Aaron Vega

So, Aaron, where exactly did I lie and how did you support it?  Was it when you said: “I will not be supporting this order”? 

Your public statement is not one of support at all.  In this statement and our conversations on the subject mano y mano why did you plead ignorance to what benefit it had?  You told me that it was up to the other councilors to educate you?  So, you do not do independent research of your own with any subject that is voted on and instead you simply rely on whatever words are said in council to base your decisions?  Absurd.  I will tell you what the obvious benefit is: empowering people.

Why did you say that we had no way to enforce the rules?  The order that was in the works could have established a trial of a small number of coops, volunteer members from the community to inspect them, an annual license fee, new hen fees and fines worked into it so that there would be no stress on the Health Department resources.  As well, for those that were not able or willing to comply, the ability to revoke the license.  I should add, as a senior medic when I was in the Army I was a health inspector.  I was in line to volunteer for this role.

Following up the lack of benefit and impossibility claims you state that “Holyoke is not ready”.  This is a statement that implies that the citizens of Holyoke and the leadership that  you are working with are incapable.  Nice work.

Ultimately the chicken debate was not that important to me personally.    Sure, I would have volunteered in the effort but I had no designs on owning any.  However, the dialog does serve as a litmus test to see who is working for the people and who is not…  You failed miserably.

Calling my claim that you did not support the order a lie is another lie.  Unless you want to now twist your words to make us think that you were somehow in support; then please do so.  I’d love to hear it.  It would take a master yogi to accomplish that task.