Newton's March 12 Overrides: The Blockbuster Motion Picture Extravaganza

If Newton's Three Overrides Were Made into a Hollywood Blockbuster Motion Picture

By Suzanne Szescila and Joshua Norman, Co-Chairs of Moving Newton Forward

We at Moving Newton Forward caught wind of Meg Ryan's endorsement  of the three extravagantly expensive property tax overrides in Newton, MA.  Here's our rebuttal.

Here’s the Hollywood treatment of a January meeting between Mayor Setti Warren and citizens discussing the proposed $11.4 million overrides.  

Start with the desert scene in Blazing Saddles where a Mexican bandit spits, “Overrides? We don’t need no stinking overrides!”

That indicates the mood among the 40 residents assembled on January 7th in the basement of City Hall to hear the Mayor and his team pitch overrides. They are required, the Mayor said, to defend the quality of life that Newton has come to expect.

In support, city CFO Maureen Lemieux flashed slides of our famous structural deficit and, emblematically, of a Newton fire truck stuck in a sinkhole. Sandra Guryan, Deputy School Superintendent, displayed grim graphs of rising student population.

Joshua Norman, resident, offered his own picture of education data, gleaned from online financial reports . They show that Newton's annual education spending rose 60 percent over the last 11 years to the tune of $66.8 million while educational enrollment only increased by 10.6% during this time period. Guryan didn’t have a slide for that. If she did, an appropriate background might be Star Wars Jabba the Hutt eating a Newton taxpayer, wallet and all.

Education spending doesn’t drive quality, Suzanne Szescila protested. According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Hingham's educational spending per student was 32% less  than Newton's educational spending per student in 2011 yet both municipalities saw similar MCAS test scores .   

Finally, resident and realtor Terry Sack asked for the city’s Plan B should the overrides fail. Not a pretty picture, the Mayor said, projecting broken roads and crowded schools.If we could put Jabba on a diet, however, we see Bo Derek on the beach in 10. She is our curvaceous city surplus when we rein in spending.

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Walter Jones February 26, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Time out Moving Newton Forward. I highlighted that you made two statements without any support. Both of these statement are untrue. PROVE OTHERWISE OR STOP MAKING STATEMENTS THAT ARE NOT TRUE. YOU SAID: 1. Property taxes are going to double within ten years. 2. Two schools increase debt load by $90 million PROVE IT.
Janet Sterman February 26, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Walter Jones February 27, 2013 at 12:59 PM
The silence from Moving Newton Forward is deaefening. They are challenged on proving that their statements are true, and there is no response. Again and again. Moving Newton Forward makes untrue statements. They are not a credible organization.
peter February 27, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Janet That is the most juvenile comment / answer I have ever seen
Moving Newton Forward February 27, 2013 at 04:01 PM
Walter, we originally did not want to dignify your trolling with a response. 1. We are concerned about the future direction of property taxes and property tax rates because of the amount of addition spending on capital expenditures and other programs that the mayor and his supporters want. 2. Considering that we are voting on two 30 year debt exclusion overrides that total $3M/year, it will saddle Newton with $90M of debt service commitments that will force Newton taxpayers to pay $90M in additional taxes in order to cover the tab. Please stop engaging in lawyerballing, wordsmithing and trolling.
Moving Newton Forward February 27, 2013 at 04:04 PM
No Peter, Walter Jones has been engaged in juvenile trolling tactics. We liked Janet's response to Water.
Really? February 27, 2013 at 06:58 PM
MNF - please stop trying to avoid responding to your critics by characterizing their comments/questions as "trolling". It's only trolling if the comments are made simply to provoke, without any real interest in the actual response. I think Walter is very interested in an actual response.
Moving Newton Forward February 27, 2013 at 07:35 PM
And now that we've responded to his comments about an old article, it would interesting to see if he has anything to say about new articles.
david9876 February 28, 2013 at 10:25 AM
If we do not agree to raise taxes, city officials will throw our teachers, children, and seniors under the bus. This is the same old threat, time and again. Why do they never threaten to reduce their paychecks instead? 190 city employees make over $100K. Give them a 10% pay cut, this gives you $1.9M back to our budget. Oh, we cannot do that because if we do not over pay people we will not be able to attract top talent. Seriously folks, we are in a recession, show me where in this state there are 190 jobs paying $100k or more, where is the line for these jobs? Newton apparently. Why are we paying $500,000 per year for a newton historic museum? Do we really need a museum? Who goes to the museum? We should not subsidize this, if people want to go there let them pay. Stop funding the museum, and in 20 years you will have $10M; this solves your override funding! What are our alderman’s priorities? In spite of our economic crisis, this is what they are spending their time and our money on: 1 – Plastic shopping bag surcharges 2 – Leaf blower restrictions 3 – Banning banks from first floor retail locations 4 – Restricting home based businesses – Seriously, can they find less impactful proposals to spend time on? How about solve our financial crisis and spend time on that?
david9876 February 28, 2013 at 10:25 AM
After firing chief cummings, we pay him $50,000 for life. Wow, work for Newton and hit the lottery. Cancel the vote in March. This vote is costing us $60K.. Use the money to fund a teacher and an aid Why do we need a temporary election commissioner at $2k per week. Another $100K job. We should outsource the elections dept, why do we need full time staff to hold elections a few times per years. Teachers continue to be underpaid, they fought tooth and nail for a measly 3.7% increase, which city administrators keep handing out $100k jobs. Teacher should quit and apply for the election commissioner job. Or work for the police dept, and get fired and get paid $50K for life I just looked at an old 2000 tax bill. Go find yours. You will see that your taxes have gone up 50% compared to your 2013 bill. If raising our taxes 50% since 2000 has not resolved our financial shortfall, why would more increases help? It won’t is the reality. It will never be enough. Raising taxes never solves our budget problem. Only cutting spending will. We need to make a list of MUST HAVES, and NICE TO HAVES, and start eliminating the nice to haves. VOTE NO AND THIS WILL SEND THE MESSAGE, THIS NONSENSE MUST STOP. If you keep giving them money, they have no incentive to cut spending.


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