I am almost dumbfounded.
The Boston Globe has managed to convey almost everything that’s wrong with themselves — and Massachusetts in general — in a single editorial.
A bit of context, first: Newton, Massachusetts is a very wealthy suburb of Boston. And “Proposition 2 1/2” is one of the few successes of the forces of sanity in the Bay State. An initiative passed by the voters (the politicians hate it, and would have never passed it on their own), the measure states that no community can raise property taxes more than 2.5% in a year without a special vote by the people.
OK, that’s all the info you need for the story. And to prove it, I’m only going to use only information from the editorial to make my points.
In the year 2001, Newton’s mayor proposed renovating Newton North High School. The price tag he hung on this plan was $39 million. Remember that number, it will come back frequently.
Well, the plans for renovating kept getting revised and tweaked and upgraded and adjusted and modified. In 2007, the plans called for not a renovation, but a whole new school, at the price of $154 million — almost FOUR TIMES as much as the original estimate the people had been sold six years prior.
But that wasn’t the final number. We ain’t anywhere near a final number yet. The latest figures put the price tag at almost $200 million.
(I’m going to cheat here. I heard one radio report on this that put that number at $195 million, and I’m going to use it, because it makes my math that much more elegant.)
$195 million. Almost a fifth of a billion dollars. And more relevantly, FIVE TIMES the original selling price.
Alternately, take in the original estimate of $39 million. Add in the “revised” number from just a year ago of $154 million. Add ’em together, and you STILL are short of the current figures.
So, what is the solution the city government is proposing, and the Globe endorsing? Keep forking over money, people of Newton. We’ll let you know when we’ve taken enough. Until next year, when we’ll want more.
And, naturally, the city leaders are resorting to the traditional approach for shaking down the voters: threatening the city services that the people hold near and dear:
Mayor David Cohen and the Board of Aldermen would still need to cut library hours, police and school staffing, and services for the elderly…
It’s political blackmail at its most primal. When it’s time to cut the budget, don’t look for waste or fraud or padded payrolls or worthless bureaucrats. Make the first cuts the ones that will give the people the most pain. Cuts in school staffing will NEVER be in bureaucrats, but in those that will directly affect the students most. Elderly services are also threatened, because the elderly tend to vote in greater numbers. Threats to cut police and fire are also common, because they go right for the jugular — people’s sense of physical security.
That’s how things are done in Massachusetts.
To be fair, that’s how it’s done in politics in most places. But in Massachusetts, they’re a hell of a lot more blatant about it. In Newton, they sell the voters on a $39 million project, then proceed to run it up to FIVE TIMES that without ever even offering the voters a little K-Y to ease the discomfort.
And that’s just fine with the Boston Globe. Indeed, they seem to think that it should not even be questioned. Just keep giving your money to the government, don’t ask questions, and shut up or we’ll call you hateful and intolerant and ignorant and selfish and all sorts of other bad things.
With a few notable exceptions, of course. We mustn’t ask the institutions that
inflicted blessed the nation with people like the Clintons, the Obamas, the Kennedys, and the like to pay “their” fair share.
That’s only for the plebians. The Beautiful People, the Enlightened Elite, make their contributions through far more important ways.
Personally, if I lived in Newton (insert huge guffaw here), I’d be bucking for either some criminal investigations into that school funding mess — or a tree that looked like it could hold up some nooses.