Tuesday, March 28, 2017
No one but my fellow Norton residents will read this (and I certainly don't blame you, because it is long and boring), but I'm putting it here nonetheless because it is important...
Invest in Norton's Future 2017
1 hr ·
Here is a post from Bill Gouveia in our Invest in Norton's Future Group:
I’m not going to tell you how you should vote on the upcoming Proposition 2-1/2 Override. That’s up to each of you individually.
But I will not stand by while some in town prey on your fears and insecurities in order to achieve their political objectives. I’m tired of listening to our town described in ways that defy the facts and the truth. Whether you vote Yes or No on this question, you need to understand a few things.
This is going to be a long one. Feel free to stop now if you bore easily. But this stuff needs to be said.
Norton is not a community comprised primarily of poor people. Our citizens are mostly middle class, hard-working folks who put everything they have into taking care of their families, raising their children, maintaining their homes and property, and trying to enjoy life in this beautiful town. We are a frugal, intelligent, understanding people who realize you can only get out of a community what you put into it.
Yet I continually hear how just the very possibility of an override is going to somehow drive thousands of poor senior citizens and economically disadvantaged folks out of their homes. How we are being unfair to seniors and those on fixed incomes. How the parents of young children are selfishly putting themselves and their needs above and beyond the needs of those who came before them. And about how our government is out of control and out of touch with the needs of the citizens it serves.
Such garbage is wrong and politically inspired. It is a cheap attempt to prey on your fears, to scare you, to anger you, and to try and get you to blame town officials and the town government for your problems.
That’s not right, that’s not fair, and that’s not smart.
Yes, we have elderly and other folks in town on fixed incomes. We have people who work several jobs to make ends meet. And for them, even a small increase in ANY expense can be a hardship and a struggle. We need to help these folks in any way we can. (By the way, I’m 61 – not sure if that makes me a senior or not).
We also have a lot of people who are making ends meet, and some fortunate enough to being doing even better. They live here because they want good schools, good public safety, the rural character with the advantages of modern life, and because they enjoy their neighbors and the sense of community Norton provides.
None of those people I just mentioned WANTS to pay more taxes. Virtually ALL of them think we already pay too much in taxes in this town, this state, and this country. That includes young and old, parents and single folks, senior citizens struggling to maintain homes and senior citizens enjoying life in our highly-rated retirement communities here.
But let’s be clear on something: You get a pretty damn good “bang for your buck” when you pay taxes in this town. I know – I’ve been doing it for almost 40 years here. I’ve watched as my taxes have more than doubled for my current home over the last 28 years, and I often find myself angrily marveling over that fact.
Then I remember a few things:
I remember how much better our school system is than the one that graduated me in 1974. I think about the opportunities denied to me, and even to my children, that are now available to students in this community. I think about the level of professionalism, the higher standards, the things that produce brighter, more informed, more educated, and more technologically versed students who help to make us even better.
I remember how we used to have to rely on a volunteer fire department to keep us safe and answer our emergency medical calls. I remember the old ambulance (we had just one in those days) that looked like a hearse and drove like one too. I remember Retired Fire Chief George Burgess recalling those days as being: “You call, we haul, that’s all”. And now we have paramedics saving lives in state-of-the-art ambulances virtually every day.
I remember 26 years ago when we had the same number of police officers that we have today, and struggled to meet the needs of the town back then. I remember the days when our police station was in the basement of two different town halls. And I remember the four year period when it was actually closed at night.
I remember when our library was in an old and cramped building with no parking, but was open during many hours when a young boy could go and get lost in the magic of the books contained there, before the hours were consistently reduced because of budget cuts. I remember what a difference that made in the life of that boy when his parents couldn’t afford to send him to the movies or to camp.
My fellow Norton residents, when did we decide to stop trying to be better as a town? When was the decision made to just be “adequate”? Is that now our goal as a community every year, to merely avoid sliding backwards any further? When did we start being afraid to be better?
I don’t believe our senior citizens want us to sacrifice a better life for the children of this town in their name. Sure, they want fair treatment and understanding of their plight. But they are not selfish folks, demanding sacrifices be made solely on their behalf.
I don’t believe our parents and students are selfishly seeking to drain the wallets of taxpayers. Schools are a vital part of Norton and all towns, perhaps the very heartbeat of the community itself. If we all stop wanting better schools, then our town and our future is doomed.
I don’t believe our fire and police departments are over-staffed or over-paid. Sure, there are efficiencies that can be realized. Things can always be done better. But when I grew up in Norton, we had five – FIVE – fire stations. Today we have one. Some call that progress. Some call it sad.
The Town of Norton will continue to grow. We must make sure it also continues to properly reflect the needs of those who live within it.
We cannot let the ability of the poorest in our town to pay be the standard by which we set our budget limitations, any more than we can let them be set by the ability of the wealthiest in town. We must make smart decisions, and we must always look to the future and beyond our own present situation.
And lastly, my fellow residents:
Don’t let those fighting political battles try and divide you, whether it be by economic class or via the “townie vs newcomer” method. They do that because they need you angry. They feed on it. They use it to blind you to what is around you, and try and appeal to the part of us all that just wants revenge for what we see as a general mistreatment of citizens at all levels of government.
You know how you are constantly told the Override is “FOR-EV-AH”? (Like saying it in a heavy New England accent somehow makes it mean more). Well, think about that – thank goodness it is forever. You wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
Why in hell would you go through all this for a temporary solution? Why would you want something that just pushed our problems off to the next generation of taxpayers? If you really want to solve our many local problems, don’t you want it to be a long-term solution?
Consistently voting NO every time an override comes up without considering the benefits is a short-term answer to a long-term problem. Voting NO every time offers no solutions, solves no problems, discovers no answers. It’s the easy way out.
An Override is indeed FOR-EV-AH. Now, do you know how long a poor education lasts a child? FOR-EV-AH. When a house burns down in a matter of minutes as the fire department tries to respond, do you know how long that house is gone? FOR-EV-AH. When our police and the ambulance tries to get to a medical emergency and for whatever reasons is too late, do you know how long that person is gone? FOR-EV-AH.
And yes – that would qualify as scare tactics and it is why I and others don’t generally say them. But there has to be a balance in the consideration of this question, and for that to happen you need to hear both sides. The good, the bad, and the in-between.
So all I ask is that you think carefully before voting. Then cast your ballot in the way you believe best, whether it agrees with my thinking or not. That’s how we keep this town representing all of us.
We are not a bunch of oppressed poor folks working for the “company store”. We are fortunate in that – to a large extent – we get to determine by our vote what kind of town we want to live in, what kind of town we want to raise our children in, what kind of town we want to grow old in.
However you vote, I ask that you look carefully at the big picture.
And if you actually made it to the end of this overly-long missive – thank you for caring enough about your community to do so