The new governance plan will bring greater transparency and accountability to Amherst government. Change takes courage. If you plan to vote YES on March 27, let us know www.amherstforall.org/vote. ... See MoreSee Less
The new governance plan for Amherst includes improvements to the ballots that are designed to boost participation and tackle woefully low voter turn-out rates. As Amherst Charter Commission members Mandi Jo Hanneke demonstrates another way in which the new plan is more democratic than Representative Town Meeting. Vote YES on March 27. abetteramherst.org/2018/01/15/comparing-the-ballots/... See MoreSee Less
Big crowd last night. Lots of folks on both sides. Many seemed genuinely there for the debate and were taking notes and learning about the work of the Amherst Charter Commission.
I was disappointed - but not surprised - by the tone of many of the anti-Charter people at the debate last night. People snickered, mocked, taunted and generally disrespected the speakers. (Sounds like Town Meeting.) At one point, Johanna Neumann had to wait for people to finish teasing her before she continued with a point.
If the governance debate is won by class, we've got this one made!
The local paper calls for a vigorous debate over the new Amherst governance plan.
The proposed new charter that would significantly change the structure of government in Amherst deserves robust and thoughtful debate during the next 10 weeks.While political organizations on both sid...
Have you donated to the campaign for year-round democracy in Amherst this calendar year? We use the donations to pay for things like lawn signs and printing brochures and buttons and cards and car signs and posters and advertising and more. But we don't take large donations (another point the opposition is wrong about - our average donation to date is $70). This campaign is a grassroots movement of our neighbors to improve our local government. Donate today to bring year-round democracy to Amherst! www.amherstforall.org/donate... See MoreSee Less
Thank you! Your support funds critical grassroots work that will move our town toward a more representative, accountable and responsive form of government. Thank you for helping make sure Amherst rema...
In this letter published in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette, Sarah Armstrong Marshall explains why she plans to vote yes on March 27th and why she is not moved by arguments of big money or less democratic participation. ... See MoreSee Less
Responds to charter opponents’ concerns I moved to Amherst more than six years ago and am following the debates on Facebook, in blogs, and in the Gazette among four groups about the merits of the cu...
Town Meeting is more susceptible to donations of unlimited size to a ballot question committee than a Council Rep is to a limited campaign donation. This happened in the schools override, you don't know who was influenced so you can vote them out.
Pledge to Vote YES! By pledging to vote yes for the charter, you are part of a movement for positive change in Amherst. Your engagement can make a big difference. You can also sign up here to voluntee...
The first debate over the new governance plan for Amherst is set for Thursday at Jones Library at 6:30 PM. Come support your Amherst neighbors demanding year-round, accountable government. ... See MoreSee Less
Community Participation Officer Explained January 8, 2018 Mandi Jo Hanneke Participation in government by the residents of Amherst is extremely important. And that participation can take many forms. T...
To fix the participation problem, which is otherwise exacerbated by the barriers to participation created by the proposed charter. It struck me as a weird thing to include in a charter, actually.
More concerning, though, is the fact that although the charter repeatedly talks about listening sessions & so forth, there is actually no requirement to respond to voter commentary. Regulatory processes with mandatory comment usually have a requirement for response. This doesn't. Hey, we can already comment -- we've got the First Amendment. What's needed is requirements for government officials to actually respond to citizens. Not just sit there nodding and then not doing anything.
More concerning, indeed. I would love to be able to vote a representative out of office if they are sitting there and doing nothing, or not representing me in the way I'd prefer. For me, and for many people in town, it has been literally impossible to accomplish that in our current form of government. I go to vote each year and have no choices - for years there have been more seats available than candidates for Town Meeting. I have no choices. And I'm a Town Meeting member, people who disagree with me cannot vote me out. I am self-selected to make the decisions for my neighborhood. That is not democracy to me, it is the illusion of democracy.
I'm concerned about the fear mongering by Town Meeting loyalists. I'm concerned that the loudest loyalists run unopposed for their elected positions. I'm concerned when I hear TM members claim they don't need to respond to constituents because they're driven by their conscience only. I'm concerned that middle income families - the friends I grew up with - can't afford to live in Amherst. I'm concerned about the double-digit declines in public school enrollments. I'm concerned about the single-digit voter participation rate for local elections. But what concerns me the most? That there are still people in Amherst who prefer the status quo!
need to look no further than NoHo. Their new buildings downtown blend seamlessly (you might not even notice)....
I am all for growing and advancing the community. You know what would be great? If the apartments in the new buildings were AFFORDABLE. This is not NYC or Boston; the rental prices are ridiculous.
Nick Grabbe- thanks for a terrific article! A helpful explanation!
They do look ridiculous and too close to the road
where are they? I can't picture it
An article in today's NYT is a must read. It's a reminder that zoning is a new concept in the US--I believe that zoning was first introduced in Amherst in the 1930's (?). For the first couple of hundred years, Town Meeting had no involvement in zoning because it didn't exist yet. Elsewhere in New England, Town Meeting still have no involvement with zoning. What would the heart of Amherst (the area around the Common) look like if we gave us much weight to community members in the 1800s as we do now? What would the now historic neighborhoods around downtown look like? From the article: "No wonder it has become so hard to untangle the benefits of community “ownership” from the rising harms. We want people to be invested in their neighborhoods, but not to the exclusion of anyone else who might live there, too. We want to empower neighbors to fight a trash dump, but not to halt every housing project the region." needs.https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/upshot/zoning-housing-property-rights-nimby-us.html?_r=0
About Us Amherst for All is a group of your friends, neighbors, and families who support year-round democracy in Amherst. Some of us serve on Town Meeting. A few of us participated in the Charter Comm...
voting against the charter. I prefer town meeting.
Where is the diversity??????
Let's talk about diversity of age, Donna. Here is a chart of Vote 128, Inclusionary Zoning, which Town Meeting failed to pass. In this vote, 92% of Town Meeting Members were age 45 to 95, while 65% of Amherst residents were age 44 & under. Who represents 65% of the town? How is that "diverse"? Or even "inclusionary"?
The new governance plan will give all residents a voice in local democracy. If you're a supporter and plan to vote YES on March 27 like I do, please let us know by signing on at www.AmherstForAll.org/Pledge.
Correction: Sadly, the proposed charter will not give all residents a vote -- just citizens. Town Meeting has passed resolutions multiple times to allow non-citizens to vote in Amherst elections, but state legislature has not approved them.
I favor Town Meeting and I urge my friends to vote against this proposal.
One of the arguments I hear repeated by the anti-Charter folks is that they prefer Town Meeting because it's "low barriers to entry" allow just about anyone to be involved. And they're right - when more than half of the seats for Representative Town Meeting are uncontested, there is literally no barrier to participation for candidates. But I challenge the very notion that our local legislature should be composed of people trying out their governance shoes for the first time.
I just don't understand why our local legislature is a good place for them to try out their governance training wheels. I don't want a bunch of newby legislators experimenting with the town's $80 Million budget and the future of my children. I want a dedicated group of local legislature with a robust sense of constituent responsibility and practiced skills. I want elected officials with enough dedication to make things really work for the short- and long-term benefit of everyone in Amherst. Save your training wheels for some other endeavor.
I fully support the new charter because we need accountable elected representatives. I had hoped for a strong mayor system but I understand that the 13-member council was a compromise. I urge all to debate the merits of the arguments from all sides and keep the discourse civil. We can disagree without demonizing those with other perspectives.
Questions & Answers Do you have questions about this proposal? You should! Here are some of the toughest questions we’ve fielded. Another great source of information about the charter proposal is th...
The Q&A repeats the ludicrous claim that Town Meeting "overrode" the voters when the school consolidation didn't pass. On the Nov. 16 town ballot question 5, 50.5% voted yes. In the TM vote in January, 2017, 57.2% voted yes. In the subsequent special election referendum on the school question (March 28, 2017), 56.1% voted "yes." So a HIGHER percentage voted 'yes' in town meeting than in EITHER of two townwide votes on the school question. Critics of TM like the author of the Q&A say they want a system that is more representative of public opinion than TM supposedly is, but in fact they want exactly the opposite - they wanted TM to deviate MORE from the public will, by having 2/3 of members vote for something that much less than 2/3 of voters say they wanted in 2 separate townwide elections. This kind of misleading material on this website does not encourage a person like myself (who by the way voted for the school consolidation in TM) who is undecided on council vs. TM to take other information on the website seriously.
I read that Q&A statement to say the system is broken. It does seem wrong to me that the system requires a majority vote of the voters, but a 2/3 vote of TM. In the end, though, the system put the question to the voters, who passed it, then put the question to Town Meeting, who didn't pass it. That doesn't seem misleading to me, it represents fact. And, to me, a broken system.