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Thread: Thank you for your support of article 4 and 5

  1. #16
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    Funny, I would have expected you to understand and agree that our current tax rate is not a sustainable one because it has used excess cash to fund current services. That means that it is unsustainable unless voters decide to cut services, which they have not been willing to do in the past.

    Your comment "The return itself may or may not be sustainable, but the tax rate sure can be." is the most surprising of your comments. First of all, how could "the return itself be sustainable" the amount of excess cash is limited and therefor not sustainable. Secondly, the current tax rate is below what it costs to deliver our current services (based on current assessed property values) so with just rising salaries and health care costs our rate has to change. I guess I should never have expected you to understand.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by BTDowns View Post
    Funny, I would have expected you to understand and agree that our current tax rate is not a sustainable one because it has used excess cash to fund current services. That means that it is unsustainable unless voters decide to cut services, which they have not been willing to do in the past.

    Your comment "The return itself may or may not be sustainable, but the tax rate sure can be." is the most surprising of your comments. First of all, how could "the return itself be sustainable" the amount of excess cash is limited and therefor not sustainable. Secondly, the current tax rate is below what it costs to deliver our current services (based on current assessed property values) so with just rising salaries and health care costs our rate has to change. I guess I should never have expected you to understand.
    You've made the assumption that the past is the present/future. That is not necessarily true. Changes in the economy have changed the way many people have thought about spending. It is not a given that people will just vote to fully fund a budget if it means an increase in out-of-pocket expenditure for them. Only time will tell. Waste abounds in government, and a fine-tooth comb is the weapon of choice in trying to provide what is needed, and nothing more. If you take off your SOS hat, you might just understand that this is at least possible.

    You've also made the assumption that free cash won't return to excessive levels. I'll believe that to be true when I see it. So far, there is NO evidence that free cash will not rise again. If it does not, however, then of course decisions will need to be made about spending and taxation.

    I understood everything you wrote. I simply just disagree with your premise.

    Stellar wit again in micmicking me. It certainly keeps the level of discourse high. [GRIN] (c)

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Waste abounds in government, ...
    Jeff B., what's your evidence for this statement? And what's your threshold for "abounds?" Does waste "abound" in government more so than in the private sector?

    If we think about municipal government, it's not clear where that waste would be. Consider the schools, which account for on the order of 2/3 of Wayland's spending. Something like 85% of that spend is in the form of salaries. Do we have too many educators? Are we paying them too much?

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    You've made the assumption that the past is the present/future. That is not necessarily true. Changes in the economy have changed the way many people have thought about spending. It is not a given that people will just vote to fully fund a budget if it means an increase in out-of-pocket expenditure for them. Only time will tell. Waste abounds in government, and a fine-tooth comb is the weapon of choice in trying to provide what is needed, and nothing more. If you take off your SOS hat, you might just understand that this is at least possible.

    You've also made the assumption that free cash won't return to excessive levels. I'll believe that to be true when I see it. So far, there is NO evidence that free cash will not rise again. If it does not, however, then of course decisions will need to be made about spending and taxation.

    I understood everything you wrote. I simply just disagree with your premise.

    Stellar wit again in micmicking me. It certainly keeps the level of discourse high. [GRIN] (c)
    I am not familiar with the term micmicking and if it has anything to do with a racial slur I certainly would not have intended that.

    As far as the high level of discourse you refer too I am interested to know how broad unsupported claims like "waste abounds in government" and intended slurs like "if you take off your SOS hat" meet that standard. If memory serves me you had more to do with SOS, certainly along the lines of websites, than I ever did. [GRIN] (c)

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by BTDowns View Post
    I am not familiar with the term micmicking and if it has anything to do with a racial slur I certainly would not have intended that.

    As far as the high level of discourse you refer too I am interested to know how broad unsupported claims like "waste abounds in government" and intended slurs like "if you take off your SOS hat" meet that standard. If memory serves me you had more to do with SOS, certainly along the lines of websites, than I ever did. [GRIN] (c)
    Mimicking -- sorry the extra letter confused you so.

    If waste in government is offensive to you, it should be. It certainly offends me.

    And yes, SOS is certainly a negative connection and was intended to be portrayed as such. Just matching the quality of your posts, I guess. But no matter, as its (that is, SOS) time has come and gone.
    Last edited by Jeff Baron; 05-07-2012 at 04:31 PM. Reason: clarifying what "its" is....

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Mimicking -- sorry the extra letter confused you so.

    If waste in government is offensive to you, it should be. It certainly offends me.

    And yes, SOS is certainly a negative connection and was intended to be portrayed as such. Just matching the quality of your posts, I guess. But no matter, as its (that is, SOS) time has come and gone.
    Whoa, big fella. I am sorry if I struck a nerve; based on your posts I thought this was a two way street, my error. Sorry for the offense you have taken because your comments really did not bother me. You will note that I said "intended slurs" not that I felt slurred by your comment.

    When someone points out waste I want to get rid of it ($1000 hammers, gold umbrella stands, etc.) but to just make a claim with no substantiation is not high level discourse.

    So if you want to be nasty to me go ahead and I will not respond in kind but will try to maintain a high level of witty discourse.
    Last edited by BTDowns; 05-07-2012 at 04:56 PM. Reason: clarity

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    Quote Originally Posted by BTDowns View Post
    Whoa, big fella. I am sorry if I struck a nerve; based on your posts I thought this was a two way street, my error. Sorry for the offense you have taken because your comments really did not bother me. You will note that I said "intended slurs" not that I felt slurred by your comment.

    When someone points out waste I want to get rid of it ($1000 hammers, gold umbrella stands, etc.) but to just make a claim with no substantiation is not high level discourse.

    So if you want to be nasty to me go ahead and I will not respond in kind but will try to maintain a high level of witty discourse.
    I don't want to be nasty. Your comments about budgets in previous posts implied that we will be forced to go back to high taxes to fund the budget. Certainly, all governments have waste in them (extraneous positions that are filled, dollars spent on unneeded projects, programs that are no longer useful, etc.) I find it offensive that people just assume we should vote without examining all requested dollars carefully. That type of tactic is exactly was SOS has done previously by threatening school cuts, loss of police/fire, etc. as a means of scaring people to fund overrrides, vote for budgets etc.

    So let's not worry about who is offending who from now on and stick to the facts. This thread was about articles 4/5, budgets cuts, etc. and not about me, you, Senatoral candidates, or anything else.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I don't want to be nasty. Your comments about budgets in previous posts implied that we will be forced to go back to high taxes to fund the budget.
    But we will have to go back to high taxes to fund the budget in the form of the services that Wayland currently offers (barring the unlikely discovery of some significant amount of imagined but never identified waste that hasn't been detected in years if not decades of examination). That's not an opinion, that's just basic math.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Certainly, all governments have waste in them (extraneous positions that are filled, dollars spent on unneeded projects, programs that are no longer useful, etc.)
    What I think that you mean (if your intent is to be honest) is that all organizations have waste in them. Waste isn't the sole domain of government. I've seen enough examples in the private sector to be certain of that. But you've gone a step further than that. It's not just that a typical reader might infer from your remarks that you see government as having more waste problem than the private sector. It's that you've asserted that "waste abounds in government." [emphasis added] I'll ask again--what's your definition of "abounds," and what's the evidence that supports this otherwise fabricated hypothesis of yours?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I find it offensive that people just assume we should vote without examining all requested dollars carefully. That type of tactic is exactly was SOS has done previously by threatening school cuts, loss of police/fire, etc. as a means of scaring people to fund overrrides, vote for budgets etc.
    You've got the wrong villain. (Not that SOS was a villain.) They didn't threaten "school cuts, loss of police/fire, etc." Rather, they communicated cut lists that the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, and other elected officials published (none of them were villains either). Now, it may well be true that those cut lists were "scary," but that's likely because the contemplation of the cuts should have been scary.

    Unfortunately, I can't stop you from wrongly smearing with your insults everyone with whom you disagree. What I can do, however, is continue to point out when insults are the strongest part (in fact, the only strong part) of your argument. As is the case here.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    But we will have to go back to high taxes to fund the budget in the form of the services that Wayland currently offers (barring the unlikely discovery of some significant amount of imagined but never identified waste that hasn't been detected in years if not decades of examination). That's not an opinion, that's just basic math.
    Had you been at Town Meeting, Jeff (why do you keep avoiding this question) -- you'd know that things like $6Mn overpayments to OPEB were uncovered, as an example. How 'bout the over-reserve of millions of dollars in the water budget? Truly silly and roundly diminished by TM. Also, if you too would take your SOS hat off, you'd realize that people may not vote to fully fund a budget that has all the personnel and/or services we have now if it requires higher taxes. Maybe yes, or maybe no -- but no is certainly possible. I can already hear the drumbeat of police/firefighters being laid off, teachers being sacrificed, children rioting etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    What I think that you mean (if your intent is to be honest) is that all organizations have waste in them. Waste isn't the sole domain of government. I've seen enough examples in the private sector to be certain of that. But you've gone a step further than that. It's not just that a typical reader might infer from your remarks that you see government as having more waste problem than the private sector. It's that you've asserted that "waste abounds in government." [emphasis added] I'll ask again--what's your definition of "abounds," and what's the evidence that supports this otherwise fabricated hypothesis of yours?.
    Fair point -- there is waste everywhere. Government has more waste, though, because it is not forced to run profitably.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    You've got the wrong villain. (Not that SOS was a villain.) They didn't threaten "school cuts, loss of police/fire, etc." Rather, they communicated cut lists that the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, and other elected officials published (none of them were villains either). Now, it may well be true that those cut lists were "scary," but that's likely because the contemplation of the cuts should have been scary.
    SOS was certainly a problem. But I'll agree they were only a part of it. The SC was a huge part of it with it's ridiculous destruction of the elementary schools for political favor. The former Super was a part of it for his hyperbole in discussing the "skillful dismantling of the schools" -- which we now found out was a joke due to the extreme overtaxation. The former Business Manager was a part of it due to her mismangement and poor oversight of funds. The list goes on...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Unfortunately, I can't stop you from wrongly smearing with your insults everyone with whom you disagree. What I can do, however, is continue to point out when insults are the strongest part (in fact, the only strong part) of your argument. As is the case here.
    Insults/smears to you, truth to others. Sorry you felt insulted. Not my intent. I am quite passionate about the role that many played in what has gone in Wayland over the past few years and I'm thrilled about the new direction the town has taken with its citizen-based demand for budget accountability, the removal/departure of people who towed the old line, and the change in school admin that seems truly focused on bringing us all back together.

    I'm positive, by the way, you don't agree with any of this.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Had you been at Town Meeting, Jeff (why do you keep avoiding this question) -- you'd know that things like $6Mn overpayments to OPEB were uncovered, as an example. How 'bout the over-reserve of millions of dollars in the water budget? Truly silly and roundly diminished by TM.
    Surpluses don't constitute waste. The OPEB payments don't constitute waste. Reasonable people may certainly disagree about how to handle both of these, but neither is waste.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Also, if you too would take your SOS hat off, you'd realize that people may not vote to fully fund a budget that has all the personnel and/or services we have now if it requires higher taxes. Maybe yes, or maybe no -- but no is certainly possible. I can already hear the drumbeat of police/firefighters being laid off, teachers being sacrificed, children rioting etc.
    Of course a no vote is possible with respect to funding the current level of services that Wayland offers. Has anyone ever argued otherwise?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Fair point -- there is waste everywhere. Government has more waste, though, because it is not forced to run profitably.
    Again, I ask: what's your evidence that government has more waste? Citing "profitability" exposes on your part a huge misunderstanding of economics and finance. Both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations have to live within budgets (the Federal government being a notable exception)--how well they do so has nothing to do with whether they also earn a profit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    SOS was certainly a problem. But I'll agree they were only a part of it. The SC was a huge part of it with it's ridiculous destruction of the elementary schools for political favor. The former Super was a part of it for his hyperbole in discussing the "skillful dismantling of the schools" -- which we now found out was a joke due to the extreme overtaxation. The former Business Manager was a part of it due to her mismangement and poor oversight of funds. The list goes on...
    Slight people all you want (I'm curious--do you have any other skills?), but in doing so (and without foundation, I might add), you fail to address the point. The override cut lists that were generated when I was on the School Committee were honest and publicly arrived at statements about what the schools would have to eliminate in the event of a failed override. To call them anything else is a lie, plain and simple.

  11. #26
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    As I said, I am sure you'd disagree with everything. You simply proved it with your reply. Your defensiveness only adds to your "guilty as charged" aura. Your twisting of economics/finance and whether a for-profit company has more motivation to trim expenses then government exposes you -- not me. We can go on and on -- but what's the point. We'll never agree. Good news is you're no longer in a position to unduly influence things, though.

    BTW, your repeated lack of response as to your whereabouts at Town Meeting after years of dedicated attendance is quite interesting. I can only surmise as to why you refuse to respond.

  12. #27
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    So, you don't believe in defending yourself and others in whom you believe? Why not? Does it take too much time away from being offensive?

    Please explain how the presence or absence of profits affects an organization's ability and willingness to avoid waste? Does that mean that when companies aren't profitable, that they waste more money than when they are profitable? Does that mean that not-for-profits are more wasteful than for-profits? If anything, logic would say that an organization that can't dip into profits to cover waste has to go to greater lengths to avoid that waste.

    I wonder which is more wasteful: Medicare or private health insurance? Somehow, the former manages to operate with relatively little administrative overhead while the latter is literally a threat to human well-being.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    So, you don't believe in defending yourself and others in whom you believe? Why not? Does it take too much time away from being offensive?

    Please explain how the presence or absence of profits affects an organization's ability and willingness to avoid waste? Does that mean that when companies aren't profitable, that they waste more money than when they are profitable? Does that mean that not-for-profits are more wasteful than for-profits? If anything, logic would say that an organization that can't dip into profits to cover waste has to go to greater lengths to avoid that waste.

    I wonder which is more wasteful: Medicare or private health insurance? Somehow, the former manages to operate with relatively little administrative overhead while the latter is literally a threat to human well-being.
    No, Jeff. Constructive conversations are fine. But I don't believe in having circular conversations with someone with such diametrically opposite views from my own. It is time-consuming, circular and unfulfilling. Plus, I find your blind towing of the line to be equally if not more offensive than anything I have written. That is the reason I choose to no longer respond. Like I said, though, the good news is you're in no position to influence decisions anymore so I don't need to respond.

    Amazingly, you go after me for not continuing with this and you have yet to offer a response to my oft-repeated question, no less an answer as to why you won't respond. Until then, consider my out of the "conversation".

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Until then, consider my out of the "conversation".
    Promises, promises.

    Of course, if I were you, I'd stay out of the conversation too. There's nothing circular about the conversation thus far, and it has nothing to do with "views," but rather, facts. In between slamming people, you make assertions ("waste abounds in government"), I challenge them, and you fail to support them. That's about as linear as it gets.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    But we will have to go back to high taxes to fund the budget in the form of the services that Wayland currently offers (barring the unlikely discovery of some significant amount of imagined but never identified waste that hasn't been detected in years if not decades of examination). That's not an opinion, that's just basic math.
    Actually, it IS a matter of opinion, because of your suggestion that we've had "years if not decades of examination".
    The Abrahams Report suggests otherwise. So does common sense.
    I had seen no evidence of "examination" until Donna Bouchard and her posse came riding in on their white horses and shook things up. Prior to that, we had School Committee members who chose to lay off 7 teachers rather than consider lay offs in a bloated administration because they said they didn't understand what impact that might have. This, after being on the committee for several years, so any examination on their part was quite limited. In addition, week after week, the SC would unanimously approve the accounts payable, sometimes millions in a given week, without ever knowing what was in the pile or even seeing a summary. This, until Shawn Kinney, who coincidentally also rides a white horse, joined the committee and insisted on some backing documentation before he would approve the A/P.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    What I think that you mean (if your intent is to be honest) is that all organizations have waste in them. Waste isn't the sole domain of government.
    No, it's not. But again common sense, as well as personal experience, tell us that it is pretty much a given within government, whereas, its occurrence in the private sector is not as common. In the private sector, we have accountability to shareholders and customers that we don't find in government.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    You've got the wrong villain. (Not that SOS was a villain.) They didn't threaten "school cuts, loss of police/fire, etc." Rather, they communicated cut lists that the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, and other elected officials published (none of them were villains either).
    Anyone who was around and paying attention would tell you that the BOS, FinCom and the SC were all working closely with SOS or vice-versa, to the extent that the lines were really blurred as to who was actually calling the shots. Yes, SOS very much DID threaten all sorts of dire things, in order to pass overrides. They had people snowed for years, and we now know that none of their dire predictions would have come to pass as our town officials continued to sock away millions of dollars more than we needed to responsibly run the town.

    Whether you want to call it waste or not, here's a recent example of where our taxes can go down without affecting services one bit:
    OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) - this is an account that, as far as FinCom or anyone else understood, we were putting a million dollars a year into for the future pensions of current employees. Yet instead of accumulating $4M in 4 years, we somehow amassed $10M. Six million additional dollars of tax payer money was put into this irrevocable trust over 4 years, and NO ONE, including FinCom can explain how or why this happened.

    In those now famous words of our former SC Chair, there is "more to come" in terms of savings, as we recover and uncover more and more examples of issues that have resulted from years, if not decades of neglecting our budget.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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