My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gazette, Bulletin to host override forum

Staff Writer
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Friday, March 12, 2010

AMHERST - Voters here are on the cusp of deciding the fate of a $1.68 million override at the March 23 town elections.

Proponents say the override will preserve essential town, school and library operations; opponents believe that town government is already rife with waste, and that now is the time for belt tightening. The override would add about $264 to the annual tax bill for a resident who owns a $334,600 home.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette and the Amherst Bulletin will help voters sort it all out, with an override forum slated for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Town Room at Town Hall.

The forum is open to the public, and two panelists will field questions from the audience and from public at large via email and mail.

The panelists are Andy Churchill, override advocate and outgoing Amherst School Committee member, and Stan Gawle, override opponent and spokesman for Amherst Taxpayers for Responsible Change.

The event will be broadcast live on ACTV channel 17, and streamed live on A Webcast will be available on Wednesday at the ACTV Web site, and the event will be covered in the print edition of the Daily Hampshire Gazette and on

The forum will be moderated by Gazette/Bulletin staff, and all questions from the public will be directed to the panelists by a moderator.

Questions for the panelists may be brought to the forum or emailed in advance. Send questions to, or call Bulletin editor Noah Hoffenberg at 585-5254 for more information.


Fear Factor said...

Dear Catherine:

Thank you for this topic.

As you watch the first and last debate between the sides on Tuesday, you might consider that the last override was defeated on a fear ticket, the idea that our elected representatives are somehow making Amherst residents homeless. When challenged, however, they took it down, as documented by LarryK:

After two years, I might add.

Yet the fear remains.

Fear is a funny thing: it often stops you from doing something; it rarely gets you doing things. The stress reaction includes holding your breath. And, stopping oxygen to the brain has one sure result; it immoblizes you. As I watch your reaction, I see it worked.

Someone told me that, once you let it out of the bottle, the fear genie is impossible to put back in. If I am getting on a plane and another passenger says, "I thought I saw someone tampering with the engine!", then there is no way that plane is leaving the ground. Even if they made it up.

For you to get onto the plane and wonder, out loud, I think there is something wrong with the engine, speaks to me on many levels. Fear is a well known tool for political gain. So, it says to me, it worked: you were immobilized, systematically and methodically. They achieved the desired result.

As you watch the forum on Tuesday, then, please consider the underlying message, fear. And ask yourself, is this what you want? For your children?

The override election next week is already over. People have pretty much made up their minds and quit listening. All that remains is hope.

You have two years left on your term, Catherine. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.

Now what?



Ed said...

Enough is enough!

Would someone - ANYONE - please make a distinction between the demand that unquestioned financial resources be dumped on K-12 and the desire to see the resources wasted.

And as I see the latter, I am unwilling to accept the former...

Anonymous said...

I am done with the blog once and for all. I posted something here that was not a personal attack on anyone and not at all incendiary. And Catherine CHOSE not to publish it. I can only imagine what other posts she is CHOOSING not to post.

This blog is now under Catherine's censorship and I wonder what other things she is not posting and what reasons she is choosing not to post.

Thank you Catherine for the uncensored blog up to now. I enjoyed reading it and occasionally posting on it. I am disappointed that you have found it necessary to begin censoring.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 9:15 - I have chosen to not publish exactly 3 comments. One included an attack on another poster ("save the drama for your mama"), one was an attack on another poster (I believe by Larry), and then one named specific school personnel. If I was censoring -- why would I post yours?!? You may not have read the post saying I WAS OUT OF TOWN and hence wasn't going to be able to publish things quickly -- but you are absolutely wrong that I'm censoring. Seems like a no win for me--I would much prefer to publish all and not have to individually approve each post (which adds time), but then I'm accused of allowing racist comments and slander. So, I take the time to chose the moderate option, and am accused of censoring. If you want me to publish what you sent, SEND IT AGAIN this morning and I'll post it immediately - as long as it isn't just a personal attack on someone.

Anonymous said...

Seems like there's no big loss if 9:15 quits the blog!
People just love a good conspiracy theory. Facts kind of get in the way.

Anonymous said...


I knew you were out of town taking a much needed vacation. My post was none of the ones you mentioned. It was something that I sent in yesterday. I can only guess that for some reason it did not go through to you. So, I apologize for saying you were censoring something that was a very inocuous comment.

I am going to take a deep breath now and move on with my day.

Again, my most sincere apology.

And good for you for taking some days off!!

Ed said...

one named specific school personnel

I understand that once you start moderating, there are libel issues if you do let postings naming (possibly defaming) specific employees through.

But on a more general issue, exactly what means does a concerned populace have to address concerns? All of these people are exercising power over children, many are exercising power over other employees as well.

A police department has a formal "Internal Affairs" procedure where you can file a complaint about specific incident(s) and it is formally heard by someone higher (I once filed one against Charlie Scherpa and it was heard by the former town manager - who bounced it to the DA but I digress).

I think that there are a lot of mid-level people in that district that need to be held to account and how does the board (not just you) propose that we do it?

Back when there was the problem of the Principal who Liked Little Boys a Bit Too Much, it was the then-anonymous blog on what was then the Springfield Union News (now Republican) that people used to leak things about him.

No, that was not a fair process. I don't think he got a fair hearing - even though he was guilty. But what process should exist? What protections should exist for whistleblowers - beyond that of the law itself? And when was the last time that the central office notified every employee of their protections under the whistleblower law?

Anonymous said...

Fear Factor said, "...the last override was defeated on a fear ticket..."

I don't think you can say this only about the NO side. The YESes use as much fear as the NOs. Someone recently told me that class sizes would go up to 35 if this override doesn't pass - and that electives will be eliminated -- both of these are fear-mongering exaggerations. That seems fear-based to me. And the assertion that "the Amherst we know will be lost" is completely fear based.