Monday, March 31, 2008
Some of it is spot on, and some is, well...
And while we are on this trip back to the future, here is yesterdays, todays, and forever, World's Worst Toy.
Councilor Diosdado Lopez is a good man who does a good job of representing Ward 2. However, I am pro-business, and pro-jobs. Councilor Lopez has taken a very strong stand against the transfer station, and the story of this conflict is what I am telling here.
Orders filed by Councilor Lopez during the March 4 City Council meeting. All but 29, and 31 are in reference to the proposed transfer station at Berkshire, and Main Streets.
29. LOPEZ -- That at least two 15 minute parking spaces be created in front of the Reliable Computer business from 9am to 5pm (monday thru satuday).
30. LOPEZ -- That no parking at anytime signs be erected on Main and Berkshire and on Berkshire street next to the yard side.
31. LOPEZ -- That the Building Commissioner come to the Public Safety Committee to discuss the corner building on South Bridge and Cabot (Fire happened last year).
32. LOPEZ -- That the attached resolution be adopted by the City
PLUTA Council and forward to Mr. Mark S. Haley DEP, Solid
Waste Section, 436 Dwight Street, Springfield, MA
01103 as soon as the Technical review period will
commence when proof of the completion of the public
notice requirements of 310 CME 16.10(4) has been received
by the City Council.
33. LOPEZ -- That the Ordinance Committee create an Ordinance prohibiting the hauling of trash by railroad carts near the reservoirs. Water Commissioners should be invited and the manager.
34. LOPEZ -- That the Board of Health or Ordinance Committee require any trash haulers to register with the Police Dept. or Board of Health. That an application fee be part of the application annually.
35. LOPEZ -- That the Law Department provides all the legal easements adopted by the City Council at the Sewer plant property (2 Berkshire Street).
36. LOPEZ -- That the Ordinance Committee review the US Supreme decision regarding moratoriums in which US Supreme Court has upheld the use of moratoriums as planning tools, when used along the lines described below, in the case of Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, Inc v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 520 U.S. 725,117 S.Ct. 1659 (1997).
37. LOPEZ -- That the City Council start the process of hiring an independent Counsel for City Council business.
38. LOPEZ -- That the Ordinance Committee review and compare the legal definitions of Moratorium and Prohibiting (chapter 40a: section 9).
Here is one from the Black's Law Dictionary, which defines moratorium as "1. An authorized postponement, usually a lengthy one, in the deadline for paying a debt or performing an obligation; 2. The period of this delay; and 3. The suspension of a specific activity." In other words, a moratorium is by definition temporary.
39. LOPEZ -- That the Ordinance Committee review the attached Chapter 40a: section 9. Special permit sited on the Legal opinion from the City Solicitor regarding Moratoriums....the one year Moratorium is not to prohibit any transfer stations "A city or town shall not adopt an ordinance or by-law prohibiting the siting of such a facility or the expansion of an existing facility on any locus zoned for industrial use....." ....The moratorium is to study and propose new regulations for transfer stations in the City. Moreover; the Moratorium is not indefinite...it's for a year time period.
40. LOPEZ -- That the Law Dept. provides all the legal easements or street closing information regarding 2 Berkshire Street (City Property) and if the street (Berkshire was legally discontinued by the City and City Council.
41. LOPEZ -- That the City Council members, Board of Health Commissioners, and the Planning Board get a copy of the attached EPA Manual for transfer stations.
42. LOPEZ -- That the City Council members, Board of Health Commissioners, and the Planning Board get a copy of the attached Newspaper article dated February 11, 1997 regarding Mr. Scott Lemay and his company.
43. LOPEZ -- That the Police Dept. start enforcing the state and EPA laws regarding truck fumes while park near Main and Berkshire and on Berkshire next to the City sewer plant. MGL Chapter 90 16A
44. LOPEZ -- That the Ordinance Committee create an Ordinance regarding Idling in the City.
"On the entire length of Main Street from South Canal to Papineau and including Berkshire Street, trucks or any vehicles idling or found standing for more than five minutes will be subject to the following fines for each violation:
a) 200.00 dollars for first offense
b) 300.00 dollars for second offense
c) 500.00 dollars for third offense
45. LOPEZ -- that the Ordinance Committee review the 2007 EPA report from the City of Holyoke DPW regarding trash generated from Holyoke. (8,275 69 tons a year)
Support for Councilor Lopez seems to be coming from this Holyoke group. click here
Here is United Waste Management's Holyoke web site. click here
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
A tractor trailer rolled on I91 north. Traffic was backed up to the turn pike, and diverted onto rt5. The Road Race had already closed some roads exasperating the gridlock.
The roads are still jammed at the time of this post.
**update** 5:10PM, I91 North now partially open, but moving very slowly. This update is little help for those of you stuck in it right now, but you have the comfort of reading it when you eventually get home :)
A tall man is in the mens room using the facilities. A short guy, about knee high, comes in and pulls up a stool, and starts taking a pee too. The tall guy keeps looking over his shoulder. The little guy says, "What the hell are you looking at?" and the tall guy replies, "Well, for you being such a short little guy, you have an awfully big pecker on you!"
"Well," says the short guy, "Of course I do. I am a leprechaun, and I can have anything I wish for!"
"A leprechaun, you say? Does that mean you can give me any thing I wish for?!" asks the tall man.
"Well, yes, but I am a gay leprechaun, so I'll want a favor in return," says the short guy.
After thinking, the tall guy says, "Alright then. I want a million dollars, a brand new mansion, and 2 brand new Porsche's!"
"Fine!" says the short guy, "its all yours! But first I want you to pull your pants down, bend over and grab your ankles!"
So, the guy does it, and the short guy climbs back up on the stool, and really gives it to him! The guy is just moaning. The short guy says, "So tell me, What is your name?" The tall guy moans, and stomping his feet, he says, "My name is Bruce....."
"Bruce? How old are you?" asks the short guy.
Stomping his feet even harder, he moans, "I'm 32!"
The short guy says, "Bruce? You're 32 and you still believe in Leprechauns?!"
Here's an Irish classic sung by Muppets.
Friday, March 28, 2008
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — A judge known for creative sentencing has ordered three Spanish-speaking men to learn English or go to jail.
The men, who faced prison for criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, can remain on parole if they learn to read and write English, earn their GEDs and get full-time jobs, Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said. Story Continues...
Holyoke Master Plan (pdf) dated April 1999.
This 33 page work of fiction includes many fanciful themes such as a Riverwalk, preservation of Holyoke's historic buildings, and aggressive marketing of Holyoke's fiber optic capabilities.
The Holyoke Master Plan Implementation Committee is furthering the plan through such activities as plan promotion, developing a timetable for implementation, exploring issues of budgeting and funding, and keeping track of plan progress. The grand public conversation that was initiated with the plan’s creation and that was greatly valued by Holyoke’s citizens will be continued by the city. The Holyoke Planning Department will conduct periodic events and forums to report on progress, solicit new input and sustain momentum.
Question? Of the 20 issues covered in the Master Plan, what do you think is the most important? (anonymous commenting allowed)
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Last week while traveling I stopped at a Zany Brainy store and saw that they had a blimp for sale. It's called Airship Earth, and it's a great big balloon with a map of the Earth on it, and two propellers hanging from the bottom. You blow up the balloon with helium put batteries in it, and you have a radio control indoor blimp.
I'd seen these things for sale in Sharper Image catalogs for $60-$75. At Zany Brainy it was on clearance for $15. What a deal!
Last night my wife was playing tennis and it was just my daughter and I at home. I bought a small helium tank from a party store, and last night we put the blimp together.
Let me tell you, it's quite a blimp. It's huge. The balloon has like a 3 ft diameter.
We blew it up with the tank attached the gondola with the propellers, and put in batteries.
Then we balanced the blimp for neutral buoyancy with this putty that came with it, so it hangs in the air by itself neither rising nor falling.
It was easy and fun, and then I blew up another balloon and made Mickey Mouse helium voices for my daughter.
My three year old girl loved it. We flew the blimp all over the house, terrorized the dog, attacked the fish tank, and the controls were so easy my daughter could fly.
Let's face it, blimps are fun.
Alas, the fun had to end and my daughter had to go to sleep. I left the blimp floating in my office downstairs, my wife came home, and we went to bed, and slept the sleep of the righteous.
At this point it is important to know that my house has central heating. I have it configured to blow hot air out on the ground floor and take it in at the second floor to take advantage of the fact that heat rises.
The blimp which was up until this moment a fun toy here embarked on a career of evil. Using the artificial convection of my central heating, the blimp stealthily departed my office. It moved silently through the living and drifted to the staircase. Gliding wraith like over the staircase it then entered the bedroom where my wife and I lay sleeping peacefully.
Running silently, and gliding six feet or so above the ground on invisible and tiny air currents it approached the bed.
In spite of it's noiseless passage, or perhaps because of it, I awoke. That doesn't really say it properly. Let me try again.
I awoke, the way you awake at 2:00 AM when your sleeping senses suddenly tell you without reason that the forces of evil on converging on you.
That still doesn't do it. Let me try one more time.
I awoke the way you awake when you suddenly know that there is a large levitating sinister presence hovering towards you with menacing intent through the malignant darkness.
Now sometimes I do wake up in the middle of the night thinking that there are large sinister and menacing things floating out of the darkness to do me and mine evil. Usually I open my eyes, look and listen carefully, decide it was a false alarm, and go back to sleep.
So, the fact that I awoke in such a manner was not all that unusual.
On this occasion I awoke to the sense that there was a large menacing presence approaching me silently out of the gloom, so I opened my eyes, and there it was! A LARGE SILENT MENACING PRESENCE WAS APPROACHING ME OUT OF THE GLOOM, AND IT COULD FLY!!!
Somewhere in the control room of my mind a fat little dwarf in a security outfit was paging through a Penthouse while smoking a cigar with his feet up on the table, watching the security monitors of my brain with his peripheral vision. Suddenly he saw the LARGE SILENT SINISTER MENACING FLOATING PRESENCE coming at me, and he pulled every panic switch and hit every alarm that my body has. A full decade's allotment of adrenaline was dumped into my bloodstream all at once. My metabolism went from "restful sleep mode" to HOLY SHIT! FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE OR DIE!!!! mode" in a nanosecond. My heart went from twenty something beats per minute to about 240 even faster.
I always knew this was going to happen. I always knew that skepticism and science were mere psychological decorations and vanities. Deep in our alligator brains we all know that the world is just chock full of evil and monsters and sinister forces aligned against us, and it is only a matter of time until they show up. Evolution know this, too. It knows what to do when the silent terror comes at you from out of the dark.
When 50 million years worth of evolutionary survival instinct hits you all at once flat in the gut at 200 mph it is not a pleasant sensation.
Without volition I screamed my battle cry (which is indistinguishable to the sound a little girl makes when you drop a spider down her dress (not that I'd know what that sounds like,) and lepta out of bed in my underwear.
I struck the approaching menace with all my strength and almost fell over at the total lack of resistance that a helium balloon offers when you punch the living shit out of it with all the strength that sudden middle of the night terror produces.
It's trajectory took it straight into the ceiling fan which whipped it about the room at terrifying velocity.
Seeking a weapon, I ripped the alarm clock out of its plug and hurled it at the now High Velocity Menacing presence (breaking the clock and putting a nice hole in the wall.)
Somehow at this moment I suddenly realized that I was fighting the blimp, and not a monster. It might have been funny if I didn't truly and actually feel like I was having a legitimate heart-attack.
On quivering legs I went to the bathroom and literally gagged into the toilet while shaking uncontrollably with the shock of the reaction I'd had.
Unbelievably, both my wife and daughter had completely slept through the incident. When I decided that I wasn't having a heart attack after all I went back into the bedroom and found the blimp which had somehow survived the incident.
I took it to the walk in closet and released it inside where it floated around with the air currents released from the vents in there. I closed the door, this sealing it in, and went back to bed. About 500 years later I fell asleep.
At about 7 am my wife awoke. She had been playing tennis and wasn't aware that we have assembled the blimp the previous evening, and that is was now floating around the the walk-in closet that she approached.
The dynamic between the existing air currents of the closet and the suction caused by opening the door was just enough to give the blimp the appearance of an Evil Sinister Menace flying straight towards her.
This time the blimp did not survive the encounter, nor almost, did I, as I had to explain to my very angry spouse what motivated me to hide an evil lurking presence in the closet for her to find at 7 am.
I can order replacement balloons on the Internet but I don't think I will.
Some blimps are better off dead.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
And now the real story.
The City can not change the zoning, or impose a moratorium, since the project has already started. This project is covered under State Law, and that process can take as long as 3 years. Changing the zoning now would be illegal under State law.
Attempting to circumvent State law is a crime. Using City offices in the process of circumventing State law is a crime.
The State Attorney General as already told the City Solicitor that this is illegal. The City has a responsibility to obey the law.
Councilor Lopez has put the whole City in jeopardy with his actions.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
In the early 1980's Holyoke was in the midst of a downtown redevelopment program.
To be honest, the real goal of Holyoke's Ruling Elites at that time was to rid the city of the Puerto Rican element. A element that just a few years earlier was involved in race riots with the White element of Holyoke.
At this time Holyoke was averaging nearly one arson per week. Oftentimes, property owners were setting fire to their own buildings to cash in on their insurance policies and, simultaneously, rid themselves of the responsibility of maintaining deteriorating buildings. Unfortunately, many buildings were occupied at the time of the fires. Dozens of people were killed, and hundreds others were displaced.
The public goal for the City's redevelopment program was to deal with the deteriorating buildings, and abandon property before the entire City burned to the ground. Concerns of a sudden decrease of property values, and tax revenue were cited. However, some in the Puerto Rican community saw the removal of perfectly good tenements for the ethnic cleansing it invariably was.
Nueva Esperanza was born from these flames. Developed by activists in the Puerto Rican community to fight the arson, and restore the South Holyoke neighborhood, both physically and socially.
In the ensuing years, Nueva Esperanza battled City Hall. They fought with the mayor in 1983 to save a 32-unit apartment building known as St. Marthas from the wrecking ball, but lost. Nueva also became involved in a lawsuit begun by local Puerto Rican activists against the city for destroying 2,550 more apartment units than it had created, an obvious effort to rid the city of Puerto Rican residents. This case was settled out of court with a promise of funding for affordable housing and a five year Fair Housing Plan.
In the wake of the court settlement the City government ran out of the moral, and monetary capitol it needed to deal with the decaying city center. The City didn't want to risk another law suit, so it let the downtown slide.
With activist now the main power brokers in the downtown. The focus switched from a pro-business climate to a pro-resident one. Efforts focused on improving the lives of the people living there, including improving education, housing, social services, and community development initiatives.
Holyoke has, in fact, provided more affordable housing than any of the other municipalities in the region, yet activist point out that the need for affordable housing has by no means been met.
Since then Nueva Esperanza has used Community Development Block Grants, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and other funding mechanisms to create 400 units of affordable housing. And since then, activist have controlled efforts to redevelop the downtown.
The current condition of the downtown is the final result.
Without the sustainable capitol that only business can bring, Holyoke's current condition was ordained in 1983.
But then again, if you talk to the downtown activists you might get the idea that the government is the source of all money, and if they can just get their next social program funded, that will fix everything.
The Sunday Republican has been named a "Distinguished Newspaper" in its circulation category by the New England Newspaper Association. (link)
In his evaluation of the daily newspaper the judge for the contest said:
"The reporting throughout the paper is sound and multi-sourced. It is clear to me that you have a respect for the readers' time as well. The stories are readable and at an appropriate length."
The judge also congratulated the paper for placing a premium on its role as "the public's watchdog."
Holyoke's chronically underperforming, errr.... priority one Schools Have been in the news again. Here is an interesting story I found at boston.com
To soothe the bruised egos of educators and children in lackluster schools, Massachusetts officials are now pushing for kinder, gentler euphemisms for failure.........
Just when it's become apparent that the State Board has applied a one size fits all standard to Holyoke's overburdened school system. They go and find a kinder word for failure to mask their own failure in identifying how different Holyoke's problems are from other school systems.
The real story behind Holyoke's under performing numbers is that so many high performing Students have transferred to local private schools, like Holyoke Catholic, or transferred to the Charter Schools. This leaves the public schools with a large number of kids from poor, and homeless families. Most of those people have been sent here from other communities, some as far away as Boston.
I can only imagine what those poor homeless kids and their families are going through. Moved from one end of the State to the other. Living in a group home with other families sharing a common kitchen. Now go and tell these kids how important their school test scores are.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Funny how things I remember most about Feb 26th meeting were not mentioned in the The Republican Newspaper's story about it. Like the police being called to remove disruptive protesters. The protesters were attempting to hijack the meeting. They mocked the Committee by forwarding motions from the gallery, and all voting in unison to pass the motion. There was also rhythmic clapping, to disrupt the speaking time of people they didn't like. Most of the protesters seemed to be connected to Nuestras Raíces, and their Environmental Justice Program.
But the most outrageous thing in my mind was the Motion by Ginetta Candelario from the gallery. She tried to strike from the record, comments she and the protesters didn't like, something to the affect of "comments of people who are in favor of the transfer station are inappropriate, and should be removed".
First of all, Motions from the gallery are illegal, and any subversion of the public record is certainly cause for concern. The State Attorney General's office would be all over that one.
The Republican never mentioned any of this in it's write up of the meeting.
Upon hearing these illegal attempts to silence any Pro comments I was reminded of Norman Rockwell's The Four Freedoms Paintings.
Rockwell's inspiration for the Paintings was the Four Freedoms speech given before Congress by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on January 16, 1941. The first being the freedom of speech and expression represented by this painting.
For inspiration for Freedom of Speech, Rockwell recalled a recent town meeting in Arlington, Vermont where he lived at that time. He remembered how his neighbor, Arlington resident Jim Edgerton, had stood up during the meeting and aired an unpopular opinion. Instead of objecting to his remarks, his fellow citizens honored Edgerton's right to speak his piece. Rockwell decided that their respect for Edgerton's unpopular viewpoint perfectly illustrated Roosevelt's idea of Freedom of Speech.
I bristled at Ginetta Candelario's attempt to squash free speech, and expected to read about the heavy handed tactics of the protesters in the Republican's article about the meeting. Yet the Republican completely failed to report the truth about what happened at that meeting.
Instead, Ken Ross, reported it like this.
Transfer station halt supported
Despite my emails to Ken Ross, and The Republican, they have made no effort correct their story. This is the only response I received from Ken Ross.
I have been forwarding your messages to my editor, Jim Gillen. I am not
ignoring you. I am simply not responding to anonymous emails being sent to
I was at the meeting you talked about and write two stories about it. I
am writing more stories about the issue this week and I will be at the
meeting next Tuesday.
If you would like to talk to me at the meeting in person and introduce
yourself, I would be more than happy to speak with you. Please also feel
free to call me and introduce yourself if you like. My work number is
And while I'm sure you disagree, I am not taking anyone's side in this
story or any other story. I'm simply doing my job as a reporter, something I
take very seriously.
Have a good day,