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New cafe offers free coffee, with a catch

A new coffee shop has opened in Amherst, but it’s different from every other coffee shop in town. And that makes some people uncomfortable. It’s called Shiru Cafe, and it’s occupying the same space on Boltwood Walk that Share and Rao’s did previously. It opened Dec. 3, and is a part of a chain that operates coffee shops in Japan and India. The first Shiru Cafe in the U.S. opened 10 months ago in Providence, near Brown University, and the one in Amherst is the second. A Shiru Cafe is due to open in New Haven in February, and later …

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As council convenes, unity and tribalism

At its first meeting Monday night, Amherst’s new Town Council had difficulty getting beyond the tribalism that characterized its creation. Several councilors, in their opening statements, promoted a “spirit of unity” (Andy Steinberg) and “reaching across the aisle” (Dorothy Pam). That spirit prevailed in the selection of a president, but when it came time to choose a vice president, the old familiar divisions resurfaced. Shortly after being chosen as the first Town Council president, Lynn Griesemer called the group “13 very independent people all committed to moving Amherst forward.” This was an intentional yoking in one sentence of two buzzwords …

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Bryan Harvey: Election turnout increases

One of the arguments put forth in support of the council form of government was that it would engage more citizens through consequential voting. Council candidates, the argument went, would have to stake out defined positions and be accountable for them. They would have to earn votes by communicating with citizens. This kind of engagement would greatly increase citizen awareness of and stake in local issues, thus also expanding the extent to which the governors would have to pay attention to the governed. A new era of invigorated local democracy — engaging the many versus the few — was promised. …

Q&A on Tuesday’s Town Council election

Q. Now that the town is divided into five districts instead of 10 precincts, where will I vote? A. You will vote in the same place you have always voted. Click here for the locations. The precinct lines still exist with respect to polling places. Here’s a map of the district lines. Q. How many candidates can I vote for? A. You can vote for up to three of the six at-large candidates and two of the four candidates for district councilor. There will be 13 members of the Town Council, three elected at large and two for each of …

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An encounter with a drunk UMass student brings insights into how frat culture works

This guest post was written by Oliver Broudy, executive director of Amherst Live and a member of the University Town of Amherst Collaborative. I had a party at my house last month. Shortly after leaving the party — this was maybe 8 p.m. — one of my guests returned to report that some college kid was passed out in his car. Puke everywhere. He’d tried to rouse the kid but the kid refused to move. Should we call the cops? So okay, I go out to talk to the kid and see what’s up. He’s huge, shivering in the cold …

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A post-partisan future for Amherst

There’s been too much mistrust and partisanship in Amherst this year. As we approach an important election for our first Town Council, voters need to exercise informed judgment, debate should be civil and factual, and candidates should respect their opponents. When the Town Council is sworn in on Dec. 2, I hope the members can put aside the disputes over the charter and the elementary school project. On the big questions the Town Council will have to address – such as how to prioritize public building projects, how to spend taxpayers’ money, and what to do about downtown parking – …

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‘I am not beholden to Amherst Forward because they endorse me’

This guest post was written by Shalini Bahl-Milne, a candidate for Amherst’s Town Council from District 5. It was written in response to a voter who questioned her endorsement by Amherst Forward. Thanks for this thoughtful note and your commitment to create an inclusive community. If you’ll permit me, I want to start by sharing my experience of being an immigrant mother who came to the US with a 7-year-old son. This was my first experience of being away from my close-knit family in a foreign culture, raising my son while pursuing my PhD. Between taking care of him and …

6

Roads, sidewalks, bridges, speed limits

Why are so many of Amherst’s roads in bad shape? Should we prioritize building new sidewalks or repairing old ones? Can we please lower this speed limit? And how long will the Station Road bridge be out? These questions were hurled at Town Manager Paul Bockelman Friday as 20 residents came to an informal meeting with him and Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring. While Town Council candidates answer questions about how they would prioritize large building projects, many residents care deeply about these smaller problems. In many cases, the decisions will come down to how the Town Council chooses to …

What qualities make a good councilor?

Early voting for the Nov. 6 election starts on Monday. Check this link for the times and places. A forum for all the candidates for Town Council is this Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. in the Regional Middle School auditorium, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Check this link to find out when you can listen to the candidates from your district. Here are some responses to the question, “What qualities will make for an effective Town Council member?” Feel free to add some in the comments section. From Ira Bryck: Calm, common sense, pragmatism without ideology, a quick …

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Parking questions await answers

When the new Town Council is seated, it will address several downtown parking questions, from the enforcement time on meters to a possible second garage. But one parking issue the Select Board hopes to resolve soon is how many spaces will be lost when the area extending from the parking lot in front of Town Hall to Spring Street is turned into a more attractive space. The board may make a recommendation on the North Common project next Monday night, and hope that the Town Council ratifies it. The plans have gone through numerous public forums over the past five …