ARL Stupid politics

I had a fun altercation on the ARL list today. In response to the override failing, Paul Schlichtman (President-Elect, Massachusetts Association of School Committees) introduced a bill in the MA House of Representatives (not under his own name of course). It would allow the 2.5% per year limit on MA government tax increases to be gotten around if the spending was for schools.

I wrote to the list:

Didn’t the override vote fail? So what is Override v2.0 doing in the House, besides taking up legislators’ time?

His terse response:

Mr. Sonko, you can write your legislators, though this is not a hotly debated issue in Trenton.

(his implication was: You don’t live in Arlington. You are irrelevant. Go away.)

So I turned on the heat and closed the windows:

We’re not talking about Trenton, we’re talking about Arlington. Paul, you seem to have a stake in this so I’ll ask you directly: why is is Override v2.0 in the House at all? Wasn’t the override defeated?

I suppose that your .sig. goes a significant way toward answering my questions.
>Paul Schlichtman
>President-Elect, Massachusetts Association of School Committees
>Vice-Chair, Arlington School Committee
>Population 42,389, 5.05 sq. mi., enrollment 4,470
>http://www.schlichtman.org & http://www.arlington-mass.com

I’ve been re-reading the proposed law. Although I’m not a legislator, it looks like it’s been designed to replace school money that “should” have come from the state, but didn’t… and instituting a local tax to replace that money.

But the whole idea of 2.5 is to prevent government sprawl by causing a budget crunch if government grows too fast. This budget crunch was directly caused by 2.5. In this case, schools were hit hardest. Local government could have moved a column of numbers, saving the schools and causing problems with police, fire, and library. SOMETHING had to give and it did. 2.5 did it’s job.

—————
So next year, when the police department wants a new cruiser, all the mayor has to do is take the money out of schools, declare a school budget emergency, raise taxes (via the new law), and bingo, a new cruiser.

Now I’ll grant that the new law can only be abused so much… “the difference between the minimum required contribution and the the town’s local contribution in 1993.” But this year, it can be said that the level of abuse would top $6 million dollars. That’s a lot of cruisers.
—————

That doesn’t sit well with me.

So I ask again:
why is is Override v2.0 in the House at all? Wasn’t the override defeated?

My source material:

Paul’s message:
> Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in
> General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
>
> Paragraph (f) of section 21C of chapter 59 of the General Laws as
> appearing in the 2000 Official Edition is hereby amended by adding
> after the word “revenue”, in line 58, the following words:- plus the
> difference between the minimum required local contribution prescribed
> under chapter 70 for the current fiscal year and the municipality’s
> local contribution in fiscal year nineteen hundred and ninety-three as
> defined in chapter 70 section 2.

The current laws
http://www.state.ma.us/legis/laws/mgl/59-21C.htm
http://www.state.ma.us/legis/laws/mgl/gl-70-toc.htm

Paul turned on the Flame Thrower (in a closed room! The fool!):

Dear Mr. Sonko:

The reason you should be talking Trenton is that you appear to be a resident of the State of New Jersey. According to the journal on your website, you are complaining that you do not qualify to get a teachers’ certificate in New Jersey. (6/19/2003). Your journal also references a callback from Assemblywoman Connie Myers (a Republican from the 23rd district in Hunterdon County NJ). You state on March 26, 2003 that you joined the Hackettstown NJ Chess Club.

I do not think you have any connection to the Town of Arlington, except for the link to one Travis James Ignatius Corcoran on your friends page, fourth line:
http://www.lee.org/friends/index.html
Travis also has you at the top of his list of friends, described as, “A friend of the highest caliber. I’ve known Lee since fourth grade. He was two years older than me then. He still is. Grrrrrrrr..”
http://www.tjic.com/friends.php

According to your politics page, you are a Libertarian. Thus, you seem to be seeking to inject your political philosophy into a town and a state in which you do not reside.
http://www.lee.org/politics/index.html

So, I repeat, I suggest if you have comments on state legislation, you should feel free to call Assemblywoman Connie Myers, Assemblyman Michael Doherty, and Senator Leonard Lance; you can reach them in Trenton. Join the Hackettstown e-list. And have a nice life down there in the Garden State.

Silly Paul, I was already wearing my asbestos underwear from my last post!

>you appear to be a resident of the State of New Jersey.

I am at that.

Being a NJ resident bars me from voting in Arlington but does not bar me from discussing Arlington politics, Arlington bug spray, or whatnot.

My posts on the list have been and continue to be on-topic. I refer to the list’s FAQ, “…information relevant to the residents of Arlington, Mass…”. I also believe my posts to be reasonably well informed. If you disagree, please say so.

I think that your attempt at character assassination isn’t going so well.

Since you’ve taken the time to research my journal (found at http://www.lee.org/journal), cross reference my friendship with TJIC, and post a vitriolic letter about me, could also please take the time to answer my first question?

——————
Paul, didn’t the override vote fail? So what is Override v2.0 doing in the House?
——————

In my further considerations about House 1215, it occurs to me that this would be the equivilant of a PERMANENT override for EVERY town in Massachusetts when it comes to school budgets. Furthermore, it seems that it opens a loophole that takes a major bite out of 2.5. That’s casting a pretty wide net, isn’t it? Paul, could you please address those potential issues?

If 2.5 is so bad, then maybe a vote to repeal it should be put up.

lee

I followed up a little while later with a more personal message to the list. The last part is quite introspective:

Paul, I’d like to answer the more comments you made about me in your post:

>According to the journal on your website, you are complaining that you
>do not qualify to get a teachers’ certificate in New Jersey. (6/19/2003)

Yup. it’s been a career changing nightmare for me for the last year and a half.

>Your journal also references a callback from
>Assemblywoman Connie Myers (a Republican from the 23rd district in
>Hunterdon County NJ).

Actually, she’s an Assemblywoman in Warren County but I see how her homepage might make you think otherwise.

>According to your politics page, you are a Libertarian. Thus, you seem
>to be seeking to inject your political philosophy into a town and a
>state in which you do not reside.
>http://www.lee.org/politics/index.html

I don’t understand the connection that you make. “Thus” doesn’t make any sense in your argument. But I’ll go ahead and explain a little bit about my Libertarianism….
As my page says, I call myself a “soft libertarian”. When looking at a situation, I find myself keeping in mind the philosophical bent of libertarian thinking. I’m definitely not a strict Democrat or Republican. Mostly because falling into either camp picks up way too much baggage… I.E. being Republican means being pro-life and pro-death penalty, two contradictory things… and not for any solid reasoning. I like the “feel” of libertarianism added to the mix of political thought. It helps me think out my position on issues. I use libertarian thought as a tool to carefully think out my position on issues. But I definitely would not want to live in a country completely controlled by a libertarian government!

I could write a lot more about this, but again, as my politics page says, “I could talk for a while about this but I’ve got more important things to do than argue over the internet. I’d rather yell at you in person.”

>I do not think you have any connection to the Town of Arlington

I left my heart in Arlington. It’s a long story going back to 1987 when I started Tufts and found myself in proximity to some of the most lovely and historic cities in the country. Several friends live (or lived) there, a very serious (ex-) girlfriend lived on Cleveland street. Arlington has always been a state of mind for me. It’s important. I left Boston a few years ago but I still reminisce about it and think about going back. I think the main reason I haven’t is that there are too many ghosts of my past that reside there. I want to live in Boston but I can’t. ARL lets me connect with Arlington without the discomfort of staring-down those ghosts every day.

lee

So far, the feedback on the list has been a mix of positive and negative. I received a private message from someone saying:

I appreciate you pursuing an explanation from Paul. I am anxious to hear his answer.

It’s very nice to hear that my words are valuable! I thanked the author profusely. Another poster (Lori Vollers Uhland) wrote to the list saying that he hadn’t dissed me. Yea, whatever. And another (Jerri Newman) said, because I was geographically challenged, “I am not interested in this or anything else you have to say”. Yea, whatever.

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