"Not eating chard. That's what all those weirdos eat at their stupid picnics on the Hungry Ghost lawn." -Nina

March 11, 2008

Gene Tacy And Elder Vision

-Past material in Northamptonist on this issue can be read here.

The Northampton Council on Aging, a municipal body, produces a bi-monthly newsletter, Elder Vision, the "Newspaper of the Northampton Council on Aging" and is mailed free to all residents of Northampton age 60 or older. It is funded by Elder Vision Inc., donations, advertisers, and the City of Northampton. During election seasons, Elder Vision publishes an election issue that invites candidates running for office to submit a profile.

During the last election, Gene Tacy of Florence, a resident, homeowner, business owner, and frequent attendee of City Council meetings where he often shared his views on issues, and frequently critiqued public policy, made a run for the Mayor's seat. His campaign for Mayor began shortly after Janey Sheppard, the City's Solicitor, denied his request for access to emails and IM messages sent between department heads during a contentious public meeting.

Gene Tacy was not included nor invited to participate in the election issue of Elder Vision. According to a quote given to the Gazette by Patricia Shaughnessy, Director of the Council on Aging, Gene Tacy was excluded from the issue based on his write-in status.

During this time last year, starting in November, Northamptonist followed up on this issue with some emails to Patricia Shaughnessy, requesting clarification on the matter, as Patte herself was included in a past election coverage issue of Elder Vision while herself a write-in candidate. Particularly regarding the apparent change in policy at Elder Vision regarding write-in candidates, earlier this year I asked Patte "when did the policy change occur at Elder Vision regarding write-in candidates, and what prompted that?" Initially I was met with no response, but after doing some follow up, Patte emailed me on Feb. 2 of this year.

Hello Paolo,
There was no written policy in place and at the December 10, 2007 Northampton Council on Aging Board meeting a written policy was approved.

Thank you for your interest in the matter.

Patricia Shaughnessy
This raised anothe rquestion for me, and I sent a follow up question. "Patte, Thanks for clarifying that. You noted that 'There was no written policy in place and at the December 10, 2007 Northampton Council on Aging Board meeting a written policy was approved.' Am I correct to assume that the decision to exclude Gene was an editorial decision?"

Patte responded the very next day, writing simply, "I have no further comment on this matter."

I have not explored the issue further at this time. Though the inquiries made raised more questions than answers, such as, in absence of any written policy on the matter, who made the decision to exclude Gene Tacy from coverage, and why? Was it solely an editorial decision of one person, or did any from the Board of Directors at either the COA or Elder Vision play a role? Did political allegiance to the Mayor color the issue? If Elder Vision is a non-municipal subsidiary of the Council on Aging as some have opined to me, why has the Director of the Council on Aging, a city employee, spoke on it's behalf? If nothing unbecoming took place, why the scramble to write policy after the fact?

LABELS: elder vision, local politics,