Steve Bloom: Power play in Amherst

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The recent vote by the Amherst Town Council to approve Johanna Neumann’s candidacy to the Planning Board is an outrage and act of cronyism that would do Donald Trump proud.

Ms. Neumann’s selection was made at the expense of incumbent Michael Birtwistle’s continued service on the board and goes against established precedence. By all accounts, Mr. Birtwistle’s tenure on the Planning Board was distinguished and diligent. His own only crime seems to be that he didn’t always tow the line for unfettered downtown development, which is the last thing downtown needs right now.

Ms. Neumann is a founding member of Amherst Forward, as are town councilors Stephen Schreiber, Evan Ross and Mandi Jo Hanneke, who all voted for her candidacy. In fairness, they should have recused themselves. The fact that they didn’t is a disgrace. So much for our new Town Council endeavoring to represent the full spectrum of views in our community.

What we have instead is a power play, pure and simple.

Steve Bloom