Monday, October 6, 2008

Small town politics

Some of you political junkies may remember Rick Hood who led a losing charge for the May 1, 2007 $2.5 million Override in one of the more inept political campaigns in Amherst history. So it’s little wonder this $4,500 school web page consultant gig did not go out to competitive bid.

The Bully reports
#############################################################
And speaking of Overrides, the Facilitation Of The Community Choices Committee (yeah, that gets my vote for dumbest name) want residents’ opinions on upcoming budgets—five years worth no less.

The have an online survey questionnaire available on the town website, although I’m concerned one person can do the Chicago thing and “vote early and vote often”. And we know how dedicated liberal freespenders are to Overriding Prop 2.5

Just say No!
#############################################################
State Senator Stan Rosenberg gets a free campaign plug when he presents to a Joint Meeting of the Select Board, Finance Committee, School Committee and Library Trustees (damn, will the room be big enough?) tonight starting at 6:30 PM in venerable Town Hall. I wonder if Senate opponent Keith McCormic will show up and demand equal time (he probably has a slightly different view of the budget)

15 comments:

Alison said...

Larry...

The name might be dumb (no argument here) but the work is smart, relevant, and important. We need to hear from as many people as possible to make this process work. So thank you for the plug (I think!). We really are listening. www.amherstchoices.org

Regarding "stuffing the ballot box;" definitely the potential is there but there was really no way around that given the avenues we have for collecting information. We are just hoping people honor our request of one response per person!

Oh, and Ed, we even want to hear from folks at UMass so if you could help us spread the word there...

Alison Donta-Venman, member FCCC
www.amherstchoices.org

Anonymous said...

Alison,
I put my two cents in with the hope that the committee will help Amherst Select Board realize what our tax money should be primarily used for. Police, Fire, Public Works and Education. we as citizens should assure to our own quality of life.
Also Amherst should be more business friendly, we should be encouraging business and not scaring them away. We also could support a store like Faces.

-Ryan Willey

LarryK4 said...

Hey Alison,
As PT Barnum would say, as long as I spell your name right (and I did have to triple check to make sure) it's a plug.

And ooops--I already did my second response (strictly as an experiment of course)

Alison said...

Larry...I agree that any publicity is good publicity! I appreciate it...and your answer(s) to the questionnaire.
Ryan...this is exactly the kind of information we hope to get from the public at large through our questionnaire. Our recommendations will only be as thorough as the information we receive from the public. Encourage your friends and neighbors to follow your lead and log in! www.amherstchoices.org

...Alison

Neil said...

Obama is a racist terrorist
McCain enables financial fraud

LarryK4 said...

Well hey--there's always Nader (and it is starting to seem there always will be)

Anonymous said...

The truck blocking the bike lane in the first photo is the $75.00 ticket.

-Ryan

Anonymous said...

Wrong post oops.
-Ry

Anonymous said...

If Howie Carr can run a webpoll without double voting, then why can't Amherst? One could, for example, track the IP addresses that have voted and not let them vote twice. Yes anyone who knew what he was doing could get around that quite easially, but still...

And personally, I fail to understand why a sidewalk that washed out in July isn't fixed yet.

Ed

Alison said...

Ed...

We did have the option of restricting the on-line questionnaire to one response per IP address but we chose not to since many people may be using public computers (i.e. at the Jones, or at the schools) to complete the questionnaire. Plus, that would not solve the problem of people potentially submitting more than one paper questionnaire or one on-line and one paper version. But we did think of it!

Alison, member, FCCC
www.amherstchoices.org

LarryK4 said...

So now we have no control over online response and no control over paper response and the potential to combine that for even more skewed results.

Good thing I'm not a conspiracy theorist

Alison said...

Larry...

Believe me, we thought all of this out. The only way to even get close to restricting responses to one per person is to limit the questionnaire to only on-line and to send unique URLs out to individual email addresses. Unfortunately, we don't have the email addresses of everyone in town (or even close, we were told). Plus, not everyone knows how to use a computer, let alone has an email address that they check. Such is the limitation of attempting such an effort on the community level. But the alternatives (either restricting the questionnaire to only residents for whom we had an email address, seeking public opinion only in proctored public meetings, or not seeking public feedback at all) seemed even less desirable. But we are open to suggestions on how to improve both our response rate and our outreach efforts. We realize this is an imperfect process but truly are working to do the best we can under the conditions we were dealt. I appreciate the dialogue.

Alison, member, FCCC
www.amherstchoices.org

LarryK4 said...

No problem Alison—I love dialogue (even Ed’s)

The only problem I see (said the blind man) is that IF you get tons of responses that support an Override those on the other side (one being me of course) will wonder if the pro-Override folks stuffed the ballot.

Conversely, if you report tons of responses that say the town should “live within its means, tighten its belt, shop at the Dollar Store and at all cost AVOID an Override” the other side is going to say those damn conservatives (and in Amherst most of them are in the closet) stuffed the ballot

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think that I actually am earning my degree -- and this is one....

First, limiting to email addresses --- well I can think of a dozen valid email addresses I have at just UMass -- these from now obsolete platforms and notwithstanding the UM policy that students (as opposed to fac/staff) only have one email address. So anyone who works for UMass has as many email addresses as desired, let alone with the yahoo, gmail and whomever else addrsses....

Second, you don't know the IP addrsses of the Jones Library? Are you folks really that stupid? And/or that stupid that you can't sit down with someone to develop a list of "public" IP addrsses?

Third, like Larry said, this whole thing looks like a rigged survey.

Sorry, it does...

Ed

Alison said...

Ed...

Rather than criticize and call us stupid, why don't you try to help us?! You clearly have many contacts at UMass...spread the word about our work! Believe it or not, we want to hear from as many people as possible, including Amherst residents who work and/or go to UMass!

We are not "too stupid that we can't sit down with someone to develop a list of 'public' IP addresses..." but rather saavy enough to realize that no matter how hard we tried, A)we could not come up with an exhaustive list, and B)that will would not solve the problem of people using private computers to submit multiple responses...which is a potentially valid approach. If, for example, a student-occupied house in Amherst had one student residing in it who was anxious to support our work and who invited all of his/her roommates to complete the survey using his/her computer, that would appear as multiple responses from the same IP address yet each of those responses represents a different person. Not to mention that in many of our homes, there may be more than one adult who share one computer but are separate people with their individual opinions who are each eligible to complete the questionnaire. From the same IP address.

You clearly have many strong opinions about our work and our approach. I invite you to come to one of our public forums (posted at www.amherstchoices.org) and/or our committee meetings (also posted). We would appreciate your input and your help.

Alison, member, FCCC
www.amherstchoices.org