Thursday, December 27, 2007

Feiden Re-Appointment Gone Missing?

At the November 15, 2007 City Council meeting, West Street resident Jackie Misa asked the council to review the appointment status of Planning Director Wayne Feiden. According to her reading of the City Ordinance, The Director of Planning and Development is to be re-appointed every three years by the Mayor, subject to approval by the City Council. Misa wrote to City Clerk Wendy Mazza, asking for a report on Feiden's appointment status, and was told that Feiden's last appointment was in April 2001, set to expire in April 2004.

In light of recent discussions about Best Practices, Ms. Misa asked the City Council to review Mr. Feiden's appointment status.

We also covered this topic on the radio a couple of weeks before Jackie spoke before the Council. Council President Michael Bardsley explained to us that Wayne Feiden's union contract supersedes provisions of the the City Ordinance, and that his emloyment status is in the hands of the mayor only, and not the City Council.

Yet we wonder--will the City Council issue a formal response to Jackie Misa's request that the Planning Director's status be reviewed?

(Excerpt from Michael Bardsley's appearance on the Community Radio Hour--we mistakenly refer to a two-year reappointment cycle, instead of three)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Adam Cohen takes on Smart Growth


Adam Cohen first gained public visibility in Northampton with his campaign against the porn store on King Street. Now he's taking on "Smart Growth" and "The New Urbanism" through the vehicle of the North Street Neighborhood Association website,

Are these high-minded arguments merely a red herring in the service of NIMBYism? After all, developer Doug Kohl is planning a 30-unit condominium development in Adam Cohen's neighborhood. In the words of urban planner Joel Russell, Mr. Cohen has "selected examples of failed attempts at smart growth, quoted authors out of context, and submitted far-out critiques to discredit the concept, primarily in order to stop one development in the North Street neighborhood."

Yet his skepticism regarding the historical failures of the planning profession cannot be quickly dismissed...

Where does the truth lie?

If you're having trouble with the playlist, try downloading from these links:




Tuesday, December 11, 2007

about that $66,000,000 unfunded liability

Here's the presentation made by Rebecca Sielman, of Milliman Consultants and Actuaries, at the December 6, 2007 City Council Meeting. She spoke of new requirements imposed by GASB, the Government Accounting Standards Board, for how the city reports and accounts for future non-pension employee retirement benefits.

Does it sound dry? Actually, veteran blogger Daryl LaFleur finds it all to be quite fascinating. Visit his blog on the Valley Advocate, Northampton Redoubt, for an investigation of how the City of Northampton interprets its responsibilities toward some of its former employees.


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Monday, December 10, 2007

Citizens United for a Healthy Future

Linda Heisiger and Joanne Bessette, representatives from Citizens United for a Healthy Future, speak on the politics of the proposed landfill expansion on Glendale Road in Northampton.
download here, or listen using the embedded player below.


landfill 2.mp3

landfill 1.mp3

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chris Teskey from WPKN

Chris Teskey, the programming director at WPKN (89.5 FM Bridgeport, CT), came to the Media Education Foundation to meet with Valley Free Radio programmers and to host a roundtable discussion on the challenges and joys of community-based radio. We chewed upon lots of topics--fundraising, programming, personal responsibility, the balance between authority and democracy....

Thanks to Sienna Wildfield for organizing this event.

download higher-res mp3s here, or use the embedded player below to stream.

chris teskey intro
free form radio
about that democracy
keeping track
getting rid of people
quality control
is anyone in charge

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Friday, December 7, 2007

excerpts from city council meeting 12/06/07

citizen commentary:

ed hegelstein on the re-naming of the village at hospital hill
ed shanahan on the forbes library board of trustees
gene tacy
deb jacobs
a man from public housing on fruit street


for full text of ed shanahan's commentary, goto

city council amends best practices resolution; opens the best practices committee to all citizens, including those who are already affiliated with city government.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Is the King Street Zoning at Fault?

The Gazette Headline Read: Zoning Forces Developers to Nix King Street Plan.

Many were disappointed when plans for a proposed mixed-use, human-scale development on King Street, in compliance with the new streetscape-friendly zoning, suddenly were withdrawn. Was the new zoning to blame? A threatened lawsuit by the Florence Savings Bank? Pressure from Cooley Dickinson Hospital?

Paolo Mastrangelo endeavors to find out in a conversation with Teri Anderson (the City of Northampton's Economic Development Coordinator), and Mike Kirby, a citizen journalist (and resident of the King St. neighborhood).

Toward the end of the evening, a spirited discussion unfolded about the planning process in Northampton. Bill Dwight, Daryl LaFleur, and Joel Speier all called in with their observations and commentary.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

City Council Deliberates "Best Practices"

On Tuesday, November 15, the Northampton City Council heard public testimony on the proposal for establishing a committee to examine best practices in municipal decision-making. There has been a bit of controversy over how this committee should be selected, whether people who currently serve on committees should be excluded, and what the balance between citizens and city council members should be.

the first playlist contains citizen commentary; the second contains highlights from the deliberations of the City Council.

You may have to wait a minute for the files to initially load to the buffer of your computer--but once they're there you should be able to listen unimpeded.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

best practice *this*

Here's a familiar voice from the recent past, reminding the good citizens of greater Northampton of the political events of summer '07....if nothing else, noho and hamp gained common ground. Will that common ground be honored in the "best practices" movement?

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Master Plan Public Hearing

On November 8, 2007, a public hearing was held on the 70-page master plan entitled Sustainable Northampton. This may be the final review before the plan goes to City Council. Present were the planning board, city officials, and representatives from The Cecil Group, consultants who were hired to produce the document.

I have put together a playlist of commentators--my apologies to those who spoke later in the evening, and are not included in this list, and to the first presenter, who I well as to those whose names are misspelled. use the little vertical scrollbar on the side of the player to reveal additional names.

Many thanks to Ed Russell of Active Ingredients Media, whose help with audio capture under non-optimal circumstances made it possible to document the event.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

election night circus

the crowd was in high spirits on election night '07 in northampton, massachusetts. valley free radio of course showed up to capture some good fun audio. click here for cameo audible appearances by the cbs news team, kathy silva, bob reckman, bill dwight, david narkewicz, gene tacy, an unknown veteran policy wonk (expressing interest in the "drinking liberally" society), and of course, our mayor-elect, mary clare higgins.

election night circus mp3

We also caught an interesting moment--an impromptu press conference materialized around Gene Tacy moments after he conceded defeat. Bill Dwight (WHMP), Fred Contrada (The Republican), Mary Serreze (Valley Free Radio), and Dan Crowley (The Daily Hampshire Gazette) all wanted to know: what are your plans, Mr. Tacy? mp3

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Nick the Fiddler

Nick can really play. He's got that free-wheeling old-time sound. John Coster and I recorded him, using our new little palm-held Zoom H2, outside of Thorne's Market last Saturday (It was cold out!)


Daniel Lerch at Amherst College

Daniel Lerch is with the Post-Carbon Institute, and directs the Post-Carbon Cities Program. He spoke recently at Amherst College, discussing ways we can use local planning and zoning to prepare for climate and energy uncertainty.

"Local Planning for Peak Oil and Global Warming : How Community Actions Can Make Us Environmentally, Economically, and Democratically Healthier"

This audio recording was produced in collaboration with Active Ingredients Media.

daniel lerch mp3

Roy Martin, candidate for mayor

Paolo took this one solo! Paolo Mastrangelo and Roy Martin, "perennial candidate for mayor," discuss the issues, completing our mayoral candidate interview series.

roy martin mp3

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mayor Mary Clare Higgins

Clare discusses her political history in Northampton, Chapter 40B, Municipal Finance, Public Works, The Fairgrounds, her meeting with Smith, and other topics as the election season rolls to its conclusion.

download mp3 or listen using this player:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Conversation with Jack Hornor

Jack Hornor, chair of Northampton's Community Preservation Committee, speaks on the community preservation act, the Men's Resource Center, MassEquality and marriage rights, how to volunteer at the cot shelter, and the Community Advisory Committee's decision to tear down Old Main on Hospital Hill.

download: jackhornor.mp3 or listen using this embedded player:

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

mayoral debate at the feiker school

Audio capture of the candidates' debate at the Feiker School has been edited to isolate all of the question posed, and the responses of Mayor Mary Clare Higgins, running for her 5th term in office, and write-in candidate Gene Tacy. The event was sponsored by the Bay State Village Association.

click here to download:

mayoral debate

or here to listen:

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