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Kevin Collins: Amherst town staff faces unfair criticism

To the editor:

As I listen to the debate over housing in Amherst, whether it’s Cushman, Echo Village or North Amherst, I am keeping an eye on our elected leaders and town employees, who bear the brunt of public anger.

In 1993, John “Jack” Heffley, principal of Amherst Regional High School, had a heart attack and died, at 56, while engaged in a heated argument with a parent.

At the time, I was working in Gus Sayer’s office in the middle school. I remember how John Burruto gathered the staff and told us that in light of the emotions we encounter from the public, we must take care of ourselves.

Nothing has changed. Now, as I watch Amherst residents speak, with passion and conviction, I worry about the people we have entrusted with the job of making this all come out right, within the law. Granted, people may feel powerless, for that is a normal reaction.

At a recent meeting televised by Amherst Media, I heard town staff and elected leaders being accused of vacating their “fiduciary duty.”

They were being blamed, in no uncertain terms, for problems we ourselves created (or ignored), over many years.

This kind of talk kills people, literally. These town employees are people who are just trying to do their jobs. When I heard that, it made me sick.

Compromise is when nobody gets what they want and nobody is happy. I would start there.

Leave our employees out of it.

Kevin Collins


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