Results 1 to 15 of 18

Thread: Are you experienced?

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    448

    Default Are you experienced?

    Not only the name of a classic Jimi Hendrix album from many years ago, this is also the question our incumbents are asking of the new candidates running for Selectman and School Committee this year. The incumbents tout their own experience as reason enough to vote for them.
    However, many of the foibles and costly mistakes that have occurred under these incumbents are worth having us ask if we really want to experience that again.

    Because there are no term limits in Wayland, our SC Chair is able to run for a fourth term after being on that committee for 9 years. During that 9 years:
    • She voted to close Loker School
    • The SC had $750,000 surplus that year, so they didn't need to do it for the money
    • The SC laid off 7 teachers in a year they have $1.2 million surplus
    • The Abrahams report discovered: "...a risk for the set up of a false vendor and the misappropriation of assets." "...there is no independent verification that what is paid out by the Town is based on the actual dollar amounts invoiced and that the check is to the actual vendor on the invoice etc." "This situation is a significant internal control risk that presents the potential for misappropriation of assets. ", among other things. See the Abrahams Report for more details.
    • Illegal bank accounts were discovered by an audit called for by citizens, not the School Committee.

    Then we have two "incumbents" for the BOS. I use quotes, because technically the long time FinCom member running for the BOS is not an incumbent to that board. However, both of them have been at the helm for close to a decade. In that decade, we saw:
    • Free Cash grow to levels that were welll beyond FinCom guidelines.
    • This was discovered by citizens groups, and both incumbents vociferously opposed giving this back to tax payers
    • $6,000,000 put into OPEB over a 4-year period that the FinCom did not know about and that was never authorized by the town. How do you not notice the movement of 6 million dollars?
    • The recent Wastewater mess which got us on the local Boston news, as some are asked to pay enormous sewer bills
    • Each of these incumbents was the liaison from the respective board to the Wastewater commission.
    • A $1.2 million dollar judgement against the town, in favor of the developers over the Wastewater issues.
    • Lots of other stuff that I don't have time to list, but think back - I'm sure you can think of a few.

    This is not intended as an insult to the incumbents. These are just the facts. Like it or not these things happened under their watch. They have also done some good things, of course, and there are plenty of places to learn about those. They can be proud of their many accomplishments.

    But, this type of experience is not what we need right now. We need new, smart, accomplished people who can work together well as a board, without all the nasty bickering we've seen lately. We need new ideas, fresh perspective.
    It's time for a change.

    The LAST thing we need is more of the experiences we've had over the last decade.

    That's not the only reason Im voting for Gossels, Shapiro and Segal for BOS and Obar for SC.
    I'm also voting for them because each of them has a lot to offer and has the potential to get the town back on track.
    Check out their websites for more information.
    Last edited by John Flaherty; 03-31-2014 at 08:16 PM. Reason: Edited for clarification
    John Flaherty

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

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    165

    Default No thank you

    I will vote for Karlson, Nolan, Antes, and Downs because I want to live in a town that has thinking, caring, intelligent people on the boards, and I don't want people who will vote things down because they don't like change. Hard to imagine that someone who publicly stated that firing Fred was "courageous" could be good for this town.

    Here's a question that's been bugging me - maybe someone out there can help. A couple of years ago, the "smart" folks decided to deplete our surplus so that we could enjoy lower taxes. It was pointed out that this was a bad move because it would temporarily lower the tax rate, but in a year or two, the surplus would be gone, and the tax rate would have to rise back to where it was PLUS the difference from inflation. Now, we're looking at a 10% tax increase - exactly what was predicted - yet the "smart" people are blaming the incumbents for irresponsible spending. I'm sorry - did I miss something? Spin is fun, isn't it? I guess anyone can do it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default

    Carl, I agree with you. You were looking for help about understanding the 10% tax increase, and so I thought I would chime in: you didn't miss anything. It was explicitly understood by all who were at Town Meeting and listening that the use of that much free cash was akin to a "coupon", a one-time deal that couldn't be repeated. Complaining about the tax increase now is disingenuous at best.

    If anyone is complaining about the rate of growth in taxes, they are really either: (1) not understanding the sources of revenue that have been used historically, and/or (2) arguing against the reconfiguration of the elementary schools, which is the main real new cost in the budget.

    The wastewater issue has been misrepresented time and again, as has the OPEB issue. These are too detailed and complex to answer quickly here in a soundbite. It is easy to boil them down into rocks you can throw, it is harder to explain the history. But repeating an inaccuracy doesn't make it accurate, and I can't figure why someone would keep repeating it after being sent documentation and corrections.

    As for having experience, it is valuable in terms of understanding the issues. It is hard to walk into a discussion half-way through and know what's going on and contribute meaningfully. Having a board comprised primarily of such people is unimaginable. A repeat of the Town Administrator fiasco (not mentioned on John's list above) is the sort of thing that happens.

    Did you know that under our new BOS chair, a secret ballot was conducted at an open meeting in selecting committee members for the Town Administrator search committee. I'm not making it up, that really happened at a BOS meeting back in January. This is the kind of thing that happens with an inexperienced chair, and an interim Town Administrator. This was shortly after a finding that a selectmen had been intentionally vague and the board had committed an Open Meeting Law violation. Experience does matter.

    I know where Joe and Cherry and Mary stand. I know where Bonnie and Linda stand, and I appreciate their knowledge of many of the issues; I just disagree with them on many things that matter to me. I went to Candidates Night and watched Ask the Candidates, and I just don't know where Argie stands on most issues. I do hope that if she doesn't win, Argie will volunteer for some other board or committee and come to Town Meeting and get involved. We do need more involvement from a broad array of people and viewpoints. I hope she has time for whatever she volunteers for - being on the Board of Selectmen is a major undertaking - probably 50 nights a year. If she's never had time to attend TM before, that's a major life change.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    448

    Default

    I really wish I had more time to respond to this, but here are a few things:

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    Carl, I agree with you. You were looking for help about understanding the 10% tax increase, and so I thought I would chime in: you didn't miss anything. It was explicitly understood by all who were at Town Meeting and listening that the use of that much free cash was akin to a "coupon", a one-time deal that couldn't be repeated. Complaining about the tax increase now is disingenuous at best.
    Whoís complaining about the tax increase?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    The wastewater issue has been misrepresented time and again, as has the OPEB issue. These are too detailed and complex to answer quickly here in a soundbite. .
    Sure wish you could demonstrate the misrepresentation, because the various court documents and Turkingtonís deposition, FOUND HERE, donít lie. You might WISH it was different - donít we all! - but there is no denying what happened and these documents prove it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    A repeat of the Town Administrator fiasco (not mentioned on John's list above) is the sort of thing that happens.
    Thatís because John doesnít view it as a fiasco. He sees it as an important, necessary, albeit sudden and abrupt, action that puts the town in a much better position. Read about our former TA here.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    This was shortly after a finding that a selectmen had been intentionally vague and the board had committed an Open Meeting Law violation.
    To see some SERIOUS OML violations committed by past BOS members, click here. Thereís even a video link at the bottom that clearly illustrates what a blatant disregard for the OML looks like. The OML violation last summer was absolutely frivolous by comparison (apologies to Kim. I know you donít like that word, but I donít know a more appropriate word for it, no reflection on you.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    I know where Joe and Cherry and Mary stand.
    Me too. Thatís why Iím voting for Argie, Bonnie and Linda.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    I hope she (Argie) has time for whatever she volunteers for - being on the Board of Selectmen is a major undertaking - probably 50 nights a year. If she's never had time to attend TM before, that's a major life change.
    Thatís getting rather personal.
    John Flaherty

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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    165

    Default

    John - you really need to change your signature line... seriously.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default

    John,

    I don't want to write a book here, so I will address three of your points, and come back to any others that you would like me to address:

    (1) the 10% tax increase


    there was a letter in last week's Crier about the "10 percent increase in our tax rate", and the quote below from a March 12 Crier article:

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland Town Crier

    Donna Bouchard, who was out of town and participated in the meeting by telephone, was the sole vote against the school budget, citing the need for additional review and "fiscal prudence."

    Among the budget items Bouchard criticized are the addition of new administrative positions and the reconfiguration model, which calls for two classes at each grade level at Loker, three per grade level at Happy Hollow, and four per grade at Claypit Hill, as opposed to an even distribution of three classes at each school.

    "I do think a lot more could be done, and should be done, to bring the budget within reason," said Bouchard. "Taxpayers are going to be asked to shoulder a 10 percent increase (for the town and school budgets) in FY15."
    (2) OPEB

    Regarding OPEB: As I understand it, there were $2 million in unexpended funds were deposited into the OPEB fund, not $6 million. It is good, and appropriate, that this is being handled more transparently now.

    (3) Re: the Town Administrator Fiasco

    John, it isn't helpful to continually harp on a several years old violation. I don't disagree with you that this violation was serious and that those responsible made a mistake. I also note that those involved did not hire special counsel to represent them at taxpayer expense, and took their punishment. They may well have gotten off similarly to the current case if they had. I believe they all learned from it, and subsequently committed no other offenses like it. Also, none of them are now even Selectmen. It is not constructive to set that as the bar for offenses henceforth. It happened, punishment meted; it does not excuse all subsequent behavior that you feel is not as bad.

    The remaining selectmen who were involved in the more recent violation have not acknowledged it as such. One of those two selectmen, in what could have been his acknowledgement/apology, noted instead that he's seen worse things not found as violations. The other, who was called out in the finding for having acted intentionally, refused to acknowledge that wording and pointed instead to the language that indicated only that the (then) Chair had not acted intentionally. So while you might be offended by the old violation, I am offended by the new one and the lack of any remorse.

    The follow-up to that violation, for which our Selectmen were supposed to have watched training videos and learned and improved was a meeting in late January in which the new Chairman (Selectman Boschetto) called for and executed a secret ballot during an open meeting for the vote for appointees to the Town Administrator Selection Committee. After I requested copies of the secret ballot (which were never produced), the Board did enter those secret ballots into the records of a future meeting, though the votes themselves were never presented in public session. I did not file a complaint in this case, though it was clearly a violation. The acting Town Administrator recognized the mistake, and helped them through remediating it. Even though I think the remedy was not really the right way to handle it, it was probably adequate from the AG's OML perspective. To get back to your original premise: Experience does matter.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 04-02-2014 at 04:25 PM. Reason: need to make some updates to deleted portion; will add at a later date

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Because there are no term limits in Wayland, our SC Chair is able to run for a fourth term after being on that committee for 9 years.
    John, are you advocating in favor of term limits? Why do you hate America?

    My problem with term limits is that I don't want people telling me for whom I can and cannot cast my vote. Certainly, at the local level, term limits don't offer nearly the protections they do at the state and especially federal level. But even at the federal level, they are un-American and we should reject them out of hand. If the issue is the power of incumbency, there are FAR better ways to lessen that power. Our Supreme Court knows this well, as they continually work to increase that power.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    During that 9 years:
    • She voted to close Loker School
    • The SC had $750,000 surplus that year, so they didn't need to do it for the money
    John, this is a flat out mischaracterization of the 2008 ES reconfiguration--shame on you. As you well know, Wayland was facing a $2M+ override that year. Given the enrollment decline and the potential harm that would befall the district in the face of a failed override, the School Committee made a difficult decision to reconfigure our elementary schools.

    That move lowered the override and for at least a few years, saved the town on the order of half a million dollars a year. Despite that amount having been itemized, one in the community who shall here remain nameless doesn't believe it (per this and this among numerous other examples). This vocal online commenter on the topic must be baffled by the fact that returning the elementary schools to essentially their prior configuration will cost the town an added amount of ... you guessed it ... half a million dollars per year.

    Regardless of whatever school and municipal surpluses that ultimately surfaced (likely masked by inadequate accounting tools), at the time of the reconfiguration, neither the School Committee nor anyone else in town was aware of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    • The SC laid off 7 teachers in a year they have $1.2 million surplus
    I'm unaware of a year when the schools had a $1.2 million surplus--can you please provide some detail. You're not flogging Shawn Kinney's discredited math, are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    • The Abrahams report discovered: "...a risk for the set up of a false vendor and the misappropriation of assets." "...there is no independent verification that what is paid out by the Town is based on the actual dollar amounts invoiced and that the check is to the actual vendor on the invoice etc." "This situation is a significant internal control risk that presents the potential for misappropriation of assets. ", among other things. See the Abrahams Report for more details.
    • Illegal bank accounts were discovered by an audit called for by citizens, not the School Committee.
    The faults that the Abrahams Report uncovered were certainly not Barb Fletcher's doing, but when they were discovered, she certainly worked hard to correct them.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    This is not intended as an insult to the incumbents. These are just the facts.
    No, using words like "foibles" couldn't possible be an insult. As for the facts, well, too much of what you've presented above is simply incorrect.
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 04-04-2014 at 10:55 AM. Reason: Attribution added, tag fixed, pea removed from under the mattress, additional example

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Kim, thanks for raising the issue of Donna Bouchard. I contemplated posting my thoughts on her strange behavior before the election, but didn't want to add a distraction to the more important matters on the table.

    As you note, the Town Crier wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Town Crier
    Donna Bouchard, who was out of town and participated in the meeting by telephone, was the sole vote against the school budget, citing the need for additional review and "fiscal prudence."

    Among the budget items Bouchard criticized are the addition of new administrative positions and the reconfiguration model, which calls for two classes at each grade level at Loker, three per grade level at Happy Hollow, and four per grade at Claypit Hill, as opposed to an even distribution of three classes at each school.

    "I do think a lot more could be done, and should be done, to bring the budget within reason," said Bouchard. "Taxpayers are going to be asked to shoulder a 10 percent increase (for the town and school budgets) in FY15."
    1. It's not clear to me what Ms. Bouchard means by "addition of new administrative positions." The only administrative change that I'm aware of is the elevation of the High School Dean of Students to a Vice Principal position. That move was well-deserved for an educator who as the saying goes, "bleeds orange and black" in his outstanding service to the district. It added ZERO positions and only a small amount of money.

    2. I don't recall Ms. Bouchard's stance on the 2008 reconfiguration, but I can only infer from her vote that she favored it. Her vote implies the following, hard-to-fathom ranking: first choice, a CH/HH/LO 3-3-3 model; second choice: the current CH 1-5/HH 1-5/LO K model; third choice, a CH/HH/LO 4-3-2 model.

    3. Ms. Bouchard should be specific about what additional school budget cuts she favors. A year ago, Tony Boschetto and she lobbied in front of the Board of Selectmen in favor of a level funding of the school budget. Compared with level SERVICES, level FUNDING means a signficant CUT in services. A year ago, both tried to verbally back away from their undesirable and unpopular stance, but apparently, the baffling underlying desire to cut school services remains.

    4. Ms. Bouchard is misleading when she raises the issue of a 10% increase in taxes when she omits that this increase accompanies the recent "companion" decrease on the same order.
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 04-02-2014 at 04:36 PM. Reason: Added attribution for quote

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •