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  1. #1
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    Default Thanks, and a pledge ...

    Dear Wayland resident,

    For those who supported my campaign and gave me their votes, I'm forever grateful. And for those who did not, I pledge to continue to advocate just as hard for your children as well, our schools overall, and the town as a whole.

    My belief that a strong education is one of the best paths to a strong town remains unshaken. I very much appreciate the tension between the demand for services and the broad range of ability to afford those services, and will continue to do my best to find an acceptable balance.

    Thank you,
    Jeff Dieffenbach

  2. #2
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    Exclamation Call for Change -- My E-Mail to the School Committee

    Members of the School Committee:

    Yesterday's vote told us quite a lot about how our community is feeling. There is a deep divide in people's feelings about how our schools are handled as evidenced by the more than 50% of school committee voters who chose candidates in the election deemed by many as "outsiders" (e.g. - Baron, Grasso, Glovsky). The folks elected to their positions in this race do not go in with a mandate, but rather by a slim (ultraslim, in the case of Jeff) margin. There is clearly much work to be done to bring this large group of dissatisfied people back to the table and allow us to hope for operation as a unified community.

    How do you intend to do this? Will you push for budgets that allow all citizens in Wayland to see exactly where we spend each dollar in our schools as our peer/neighboring towns do? Will you hold quarterly forums that allow the public to ask questions AND receive answers? Will you demonstrate the leadership necessary in a tight economy and freeze non-union wages (despite their being budgeted for) in 2009 -- saving the $85,000 and returning it to our town coffers? Will you host your committee website on the town's servers as our peer/neighboring towns do (see Dave Bernstein's list at http://www.waylandenews.com/forum/sh...&postcount=48)?

    None of these are unreasonable questions, and the 'right' responses could be a meaningful step on the path to unity. I, along with the 1,400+ voters who agree with my positions, remain genuinely interested in their answers.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    .... more than 50% of school committee voters ... chose candidates in the election deemed by many as "outsiders" (e.g. - Baron, Grasso, Glovsky). ***I, along with the 1,400+ voters who agree with my positions, remain genuinely interested in their answers.
    Numbers need to be treated with care, and the inferences drawn from them need to be assessed cautiously. Before Mr. Baron claims some sort of mandate or representational status, he should consider that the same numbers support the following conclusions:

    (1) Mr. Baron received 1451 votes (less than 21%) of the 6978 total. If we look at the numbers as though Mr. Baron and Mr. Grasso were a "ticket", they received 2935 votes (42%) of the 6978 total, which means that 58% of the voters did not choose them -- a very substantial margin in the political sphere.

    (2) Of the 4 precincts, Mr. Baron lost to Messrs. Astley and Dieffenbach by significant margins in 3 precincts, and beat them only in one (and that by a substantial margin). That suggests that there are issues that particularly concern that one precinct (Precinct 3). These concerns warrant attention, but they are highly localized and they do not constitute Town-wide concerns.

    One further thought: Why is Mr. Baron so dismissive of Mr. Astley when he lists those whom he considers "outsiders"? Mr. Astley has had no more of a previous connection to the School Committee than has Mr. Baron, Mr. Grasso and Mr. Glovsky.

    All in all, I find Mr. Baron's post rather churlish after Mr. Dieffenach's gracious and embracing post.
    Last edited by Steve Perlman; 04-08-2009 at 05:06 PM. Reason: fix typos

  4. #4
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    Default What a Shock!

    OMG, a member of the 'editorial board' of this site writing a pro-Dieffenbach and Astley response [GRIN]. Maybe we should rename this site SOSWaylandeNews.com. That would be signifcantly more appropriate given the severe bent of this site's editorial content and my concious choice to avoid it during the election. The sheep's clothing is off, Mr. Perlman.

    I don't have the time to respond to this post in full at the moment, but feel free to check http://www.wayland.ma.us/townclerk/electionresults.htm to see that only 3,489 people voted in yesterday's election. Mr. Perlman's failure to understand these simple numbers says more than enough about the validity of his points about numbers.

    Also, you don't get to be an outsider when SOS backs you. As one of the co-leaders told me last year (a real quote) - "What makes you think you have the right to run? We handpick the people on the school committee - and we didn't pick you." 'Nuff said to back up that point.

    My questions to Mr. Dieffenbach were not churlish (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/churlish), but rather appropriate of someone who is willing to fight for those who did not vote for him. I still look forward to his/the committee's reponses, as do the 1,400+ voters who voted with me yeterday.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    OMG, a member of the 'editorial board' of this site writing a pro-Dieffenbach and Astley response [GRIN]. Maybe we should rename this site SOSWaylandeNews.com. That would be signifcantly more appropriate given the severe bent of this site's editorial content and my concious choice to avoid it during the election. The sheep's clothing is off, Mr. Perlman.
    Pro-fair-use-of-numbers, not pro-Dieffenbach-and-Astley. Of course, that's consistent with the WaylandeNews endorsement of Dieffenbach, Astley and Grasso (in that order). Mr. Baron is undoubtedly resentful that he was not similarly recommended.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I don't have the time to respond to this post in full at the moment, but feel free to check http://www.wayland.ma.us/townclerk/electionresults.htm to see that only 3,489 people voted in yesterday's election. Mr. Perlman's failure to understand these simple numbers says more than enough about the validity of his points about numbers.
    My point, of course, was that Mr. Baron should have been more careful before tossing out his numbers, since there are other ways to slice them. And since we have no way of knowing how many of those 3489 voters voted for Mr. Baron only, Mr. Baron plus another candidate, or other candidates entirely, I'll stick with my examples as being just as valid as Mr.Baron's numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Also, you don't get to be an outsider when SOS backs you. As one of the co-leaders told me last year (a real quote) - "What makes you think you have the right to run? We handpick the people on the school committee - and we didn't pick you."
    I just don't believe that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    My questions to Mr. Dieffenbach were not churlish (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/churlish) ...
    I used "churlish" in the sense of boorish, unmannerly and/or ungracious. Check the American Heritage Dictionary.

  6. #6
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    Default Can't we work to build some consensus?

    We clearly did have a close election as Mr. Baron points out. And as Mr. Perlman points out, the results showed a dichotomy of behavior, with Precinct 3 voting very differently than the other three precincts. So you're both right. There's work to be done!

    This thread started with what I thought was a very nice email from Jeff D indicating that he understands he didn't get everyone's vote and that he will continue to work for all of our kids.

    Jeff B then made several requests, and there's certainly some merit to at least some of them. My request to you, Jeff (B), would be to focus on those that actually make the most difference. I think we've had the debate on where the website lies (ad nauseum), and frankly, unless Jeff (D) and the School Committee really mess up, it really doesn't matter where the HTML resides. What matters is the decisions they make and the information they share, so why focus on where they host the website?

    The wage freeze one seems like more of a negotiation issue, and not one that they are likely to be able to give you some sort of pledge on.

    Your requests for public hearings and increased budget detail seem reasonable.

    If we could keep the tone of the discussion civil, it will go a long way in enabling us to work together to build consensus.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Dear Mr. Baron,

    Thank you for your interesting post. Please see my thoughts interspersed below. Please note that they are mine alone and do not necessarily represent those of other members or the Committee as a whole.

    Regards,
    Jeff Dieffenbach

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Members of the School Committee:

    Yesterday's vote told us quite a lot about how our community is feeling. There is a deep divide in people's feelings about how our schools are handled as evidenced by the more than 50% of school committee voters who chose candidates in the election deemed by many as "outsiders" (e.g. - Baron, Grasso, Glovsky).
    To exclude Malcolm Astley from your list of outsiders is curious indeed, your later reference to SOS support notwithstanding. And to my knowledge, SOS endorsed no candidates. I assume you would not strip SOS volunteers of their right to participate as individuals in the democratic process. I don't know how many volunteers they have, nor how those volunteers cast their votes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    The folks elected to their positions in this race do not go in with a mandate, but rather by a slim (ultraslim, in the case of Jeff) margin. There is clearly much work to be done to bring this large group of dissatisfied people back to the table and allow us to hope for operation as a unified community.
    I certainly claim no mandate, and as I attempted to convey in my initial post above, I too wish to bring people back together. To that end, I'm sure that it was not your intent in your questions that follow to take such an aggressive stance, but that is how I interpret them--perhaps my skin is simply too thin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    How do you intend to do this? Will you push for budgets that allow all citizens in Wayland to see exactly where we spend each dollar in our schools as our peer/neighboring towns do?
    I've been pushing for this already. The volume of information available on the Wayland Public Schools Web site is considerable if not best in class. And the availability of the depth of that information is due largely to my pushing. I'm sure that we can get better with our new accounting system.

    Many hold Weston's budget as a great example. I suspect that fewer of these people have actually studied it as I have. Wayland's budget has as much personnel information as Weston's, and that accounts for the vast majority of our expenditure. With respect to the remaining non-personnel items, much of Weston's "detail" is false detail.

    For instance, see pages 104 and 105. They have dozens of line items, all labeled "Equipment Maintenance," and the majority without elaboration. How about page 106 with twenty or so "Course Fees," none really identifiable. Or pages 112-114, with maybe a hundred lines called "Teaching Supplies."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Will you hold quarterly forums that allow the public to ask questions AND receive answers?
    In part at my urging, we moved a few years ago from one such meeting to two. And on an ad hoc basis, we frequently hold several others. Many School Committees have much more limited comment periods at regular meetings--we have one at the beginning and one at the end, and it's been years since we've cut off questions out of time consideration. With the exception of a meeting or two during the transition of a new person to chair, we've tried to provide answers on the spot when we've had them. We can probably do better with after-the-fact answers, and I'm all for doing that. Maybe 3 "formal" forums make sense, maybe 4. But the suggestion that there's no chance for input and Q&A, as one might infer from your comment, doesn't match reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Will you demonstrate the leadership necessary in a tight economy and freeze non-union wages (despite their being budgeted for) in 2009 -- saving the $85,000 and returning it to our town coffers?
    This is a matter for the Committee to discuss, and we will do so again this year as we have done in the past. This begins to stray into the area of negotiations, so let me leave it that the option you point out is not lost on me. At the same time, I find value in the town-wide philosophy of not dividing pools of employees against one another. Somewhere between the two lies an answer that I'll reach.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Will you host your committee website on the town's servers as our peer/neighboring towns do (see Dave Bernstein's list at http://www.waylandenews.com/forum/sh...&postcount=48)?
    That is a question (while interesting, of near-zero import, in my opinion) for the Committee as a whole. I can't imagine that anyone who cares is unaware of my personal position (the site is quite fine just where it is, thank you very much). The site easily allows us to do what a School Committee should do: inform about and advocate for the public schools. If anyone comes up with a compelling reason (and without any intended "taunt," I'm still waiting) why we might change our current practice, I'll be happy to entertain it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    None of these are unreasonable questions, and the 'right' responses could be a meaningful step on the path to unity. I, along with the 1,400+ voters who agree with my positions, remain genuinely interested in their answers.
    I find it interesting that none of your questions focus on the quality of education, or on the challenges we face at the High School. I suspect that the positions and questions of those who voted for you are not all that different from the ones who voted for me, and that those positions and questions are much farther ranging within any voter group than you suggest and in general less rather than more like the ones you've listed. But I've answered them nonetheless.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Personally, I find this discussion of mandates and margins and outsiders versus insiders and disenfranchisement vs. control and north vs. south rather depressing and also simplistic. Everyone can draw whatever conclusions from this election that they want but the issues we face as a town are far more complex and hopefully can be dealt with maturely and toward the kind of compromise that serves the needs of Waylanders as one town and not the needs of some to the exclusion of others.

    The view that, now that we've had an election, some one or some group is in control and someone else is not is one that I believe overstates or diminishes what each of us has to offer. Each one of us "in control". We demonstrate that each time we vote or attend a Town Meeting and support candidates or ballot questions that are aligned with our views. We exert our "control" or influence when we advocate positions to the boards and elected officials in town. We exert our influence when we talk to our neighbors at Starbucks or on the soccer field or at the PTO meeting.

    Much has been made about SOS' "control" in town and the "loss" by the "Barron/Grasso" ticket or the CSPOW group that sent post cards supporting them. I personally know and consider the leaders of SOS and CSPOW and their spouses friends. I know them socially and through athletics and see them at holiday parties and school functions and laugh and cry with them about any number of family and personal events. I also know both Jeffs through town sports. And of course, our kids are even more interlinked than we are as parents. And I'm sure I'm not alone in all of this. So like it or not, and I rather do, it's not as simple as any of these in vs. out of one group versus another might suggest.

    Here's an example of what I'm talking about. Take SOS. All four of their co-chairs live south of Route 20 and I believe two in Cochituate. Yet some call them a pro-North or anti-Loker group. As an organization, they take positions on ballot questions (debt exclusion, overrides, town center, etc.) they believe benefit the town as a whole. They don’t, despite the accusations, endorse candidates as a group otherwise they'd have the AG down their backs rather than the individuals expressing their personal interpretations of the law. Of course, candidates support some of the same ballot questions that SOS works to see passed. The positions SOS supports, at least evidenced by the lawn signs they have up each election, appear all over town. So for example, you saw SOS funded debt exclusion lawn signs on the same lawns as those displaying Baron, Grasso, Dieffenbach and Astley signs. All four of those candidates support the debt exclusion that SOS supports but that does not mean that SOS supports those candidates – they don’t support any candidates.

    The dispersion of pro Town Center signs and override signs also knew no geographic concentration. So I think SOS expresses the views of people dispersed across Wayland and is certainly not a “North” group. When clear majorities support the debt exclusions, the Town Center, and the overrides, it doesn’t mean SOS controls the town. It means that the people who vote, and actually control the town by their vote, agree with SOS’s position. It's actually more appropriate to say that, when the votes come in as they have of late, that SOS (all four of them) agrees with the people who control the town by their vote. Also, as best as I can tell, SOS did not support a CVS going into Cochituate and did not support Loker closing down or running more traffic up Bow Road and Gleason Lane. I haven’t seem them take positions on any of these issues or other neighborhood issues. And in fairness, two School Committee members from “South”, one who lives in Cochituate and whose kids went to Loker (Jeff D) and one who lives very close to Loker and whose youngest was going to Loker at the time (Heather), voted for the reconfiguration that made Loker a kindergarten school, I assume, because they thought it was in the best interests of Wayland even though it may have been personally difficult for them.

    So, let's not oversimplify or incorrectly describe these situations and pit ourselves against each other through these groups or on our own. I'm hopeful that with these elections over, we can go about talking to our elected officials and neighbors in a civil fashion to express views and "influence" or "control" that we individually own in ways we all have the right and ability to do.

  9. #9
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    Exclamation SOS doesn't support any candidates?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Goldstein View Post
    All four of those candidates support the debt exclusion that SOS supports but that does not mean that SOS supports those candidates – they don’t support any candidates.
    Steve,
    All SOS co- chairs supported candidates.
    Everyone received the emails they forwarded around supporting Malcom Astley, Jeff Dieffenbach, Sue Pope, and Tom Fay.
    Can anyone truly dispute this?
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 04-09-2009 at 11:41 AM. Reason: to fix quote formatting

  10. #10
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    Talking Another take on it...

    Officially SOS, this year, does not support candidates. If they did they would be running afoul of the law and they certainly would not want to do that. I checked with the OCPF on things like officers of SOS endorsing candidates or sending emails or handing out little pieces of paper and they told me that as long as they do it personally and they hand out those little pieces of paper outside the radius of the voting stations then they have a first amendment right to do that BUT... in a sense SOS gets to have it both ways, they don't support candidates as a registered group this year but they can do it as individuals. The law is an interesting place isn't it?

    Mr. Goldstein did hit something right on the head that I would like to underscore. He said that SOS represents the majority of the population that actually votes. Nothing can be more accurate then that statement. Thank you for saying it Mr. Goldstein.

    In an override year (or national event year) you might expect 50%+ voter turnout. In an off year cycle (like the one we just had) then you get 38.5%. Thats pretty dismal because if one group is so naturally organized around a common goal (ie. the schools) then that group can produce a margin (even a slim margin) and control the agenda of the town. (However, I will say that my loss this year was not by a slim margin.)

    But this is not the fault of SOS. So can I say that its the fault of the other 62%? My knee jerk reaction would be to say yes but I have to hold back on that too. If one doesn't vote it may be because:

    1. They feel everything is fine and do not care whether another group determines the direction of the politics in town.
    2. They feel that their vote does not count and they feel disenfranchised.
    3. They just are not paying attention to it and they are too busy with their own lives to care enough to get involved.

    Its most probably some of each and I have no data to say what the breakout is.

    In my rationale' for getting into politics in Wayland I saw my role as one of putting forth moderation in taxation. Contrary to popular opinion I have voted for overrides in the past (I've been in town 21 years) and sometimes an operational override is needed because one may be overdue or there maybe some extraordinary situations that need attention. I just wasn't for 5 overrides in 7 years and anticipate 6 in 9 for 2010. And I certainly was for more voter choices and not be coerced into voting for an override because ambulances were being put at risk. Remember, the MSBA told every town to put the school funding measure as a SEPARATE question.. when its important, the state knows how to do it. Please consider this point.


    There was some discussion about my Cochituate document and me being the General Lee of Wayland. Of course this is not true (I had no agenda to split Wayland), but I did codify how one group might organize itself to exert control in the same vein as SOS and as part of a larger plan to bring in business and tourism and revitalize and project the Village atmosphere of Cochituate for the benefit of all of Wayland.

    I bring this up here now because I wish to provide a caution. I've read that the income level of 60% of Wayland (Cochituate) is ranked 27th in the state. If Wayland is 7th in the state then the only way the two can blend is if the upper end of Wayland is higher than 7 and maybe 1 2 or 3. In fact we probably have a wealth distribution in Wayland which is very bimodal where there is a significant high end and a very significant middle to low end.

    So here is the caution....
    If the taxes continue to spiral in unsustainable ways then there will be a natural division and a continuance of discontent and that division will occur along the lines of wealth and along the lines of the ability to keep up and stay put. Not too much different from what I've been saying all along.

    This is a very difficult problem to navigate.
    So if there is a solution to this and, in fact, the majority of that 62% is suffering well then they aren't speaking up for themselves.

    There are 9,000 registered voters in Wayland.
    I would like to see 9,000 votes cast next time and every time.
    Too much to ask for?

    Thank you all for considering me as a candidate for Selectman !

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