Some members of Amherst Town Meeting, including yours truly, were surprised last night to find themselves photographed and tagged by name in Facebook posts on a site called “Amherst4All.” Often, confusing remarks accompanied these images of people asking questions of local officials during Town Meeting, which can be seen here:
At one point, a member named Alan Root talked about the poor condition of sidewalks in Amherst, saying that he has trouble walking, and fears getting injured. There is a blurry photo of Root, with this comment: “Alan Root has trouble falling on sidewalks, I’m 84. There’s a real neglect going on in this area.”
Meanwhile, a photo of Finance Committee member Stephen Braun just has Braun’s name and the words “And I’ll leave it at that.” Other Town Meeting members, speaking at the first night of annual spring session, are misidentified in the photos, which are captioned at times with sentence fragments.
However, those who run the organization “Amherst For All,” which is advocating for termination of Town Meeting, and creation of a smaller, mayor/council government, say it is not behind the posts, or the “Amherst4All” page.
Amherst resident and developer Jerry Guidera, reached through the “Amherst For All” Facebook page today, said his group has “nothing to do with that (Amherst4All) page. It’s run by Kevin Collins. We ignore it. I suggest you do, too.” This is the actual “Amherst For All” Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/amherstforall/
Guidera, who is a Town Meeting member, acknowledged that people may be confused about which is the authentic page, and said his group has asked Collins to stop posting to the copycat one, but to no avail.
“Amherst4All” is listed as a Facebook “group” with 281 members who have joined, while “Amherst For All” is a page with 604 “likes.”
Collins is director of the Red Barn Music School. A former member of Town Meeting, he ran for but was not re-elected to the 240-member legislative body last month.
Collins aggressively campaigned for the recently-failed schools consolidation and building project. Over a period of many months, during which the project didn’t win a two-thirds majority at two Town Meetings, or in a townwide referendum, Collins added large folding signs and strings of electric lights to his station wagon. These refer to a “double override” and claim that a different school project will result in a much bigger tax burden than the one that was proposed.
Although Collins’ lighted vehicle was parked outside of Amherst Regional Middle School last night, where Town Meeting was taking place, the blurry images on the “Amherst4All” Facebook page appear to be photographs of Amherst Media’s live video as it appeared on television.