Monday, May 17, 2010

You're Not Listening!

Jerold… you’re not listening!

In your last posting on the LongmeadowBuzz, you continued to portray Mr. Gold as an uninformed and misguided town official in an attempt to silence his opposition to the School Building project. Contrary to all of the rhetoric, Mark is well versed about town finances and the school building project. His outstanding leadership and commitment during his one year term on the Select Board resulted in a BALANCED budget that was overwhelming approved at last week’s annual town meeting.

It’s interesting to note that two current Select Board members (Mr. Aseltine and chairman, Mr. Barkett) voted AGAINST the approved budget because they wanted to see more cuts in the town side of the budget. Both are strongly in favor of the High School Building project.

I would urge you (as well as Ms. Swanson and other School Building proponents) to spend more time listening and less time bashing Mr. Gold’s position.

Below is a response by Mark Gold to Ms. Swanson’s recent criticism of his position.

Dear Longmeadow Residents,

Much has been written over the past several weeks about Longmeadow High School and it is appropriate for me, as a candidate for reelection to the Select Board, to offer my position. In the six years I served as chair of the Capital Planning Committee and in this past year as a member of the Select Board, I have come to understand and appreciate the serious deficiencies in our high school physical plant. I believe strongly that improvements – major improvements – need to be done to this facility. My work as a Select Board member in leading the development of this year’s operating budget compromise has also shown me the limits of our financial resources and how much Longmeadow will change if we are unable to maintain the diversity and quality of services that so distinctly characterize this town.

I have carefully and thoughtfully reviewed the high school project proposal that is currently before the residents of the town. It is precisely because I care about the schools, education, and the issues that attract and keep residents in Longmeadow that I have concluded that this project, at this time, is not the right project for addressing the deficiencies of Longmeadow High School. At a cost to the taxpayers of $44.4 million, approval of this project will put a financial burden on the town that will unduly limit our ability to address other critical operating and capital needs we face in the coming years.

It would have been a far more politically expedient position for me to support this project as it is proposed. However, it is because I have given this project so much thought and reviewed it in the context of my service as a member of the Select Board and within the broader needs of our town that I have concluded that this is not the right project at this time. The physical plant needs and other issues at the middle schools are of as equal concern to me as the needs of high school. As I look to those and the other overall needs of our educational system I realize that it is a mistake to focus on one issue without recognition of the other needs that are also within our field of vision. All the needs of the school system should be considered so that we understand the resource limits of the town and properly allocate them so that all the needs can be met over the coming years.

There is pressure to support this project based on a sense of urgency; many feel that state aid will be withdrawn unless we move ahead now. Although project supporters may disagree, I look at the upcoming vote as A decision point, rather than THE decision point in this project. Other than “forum” presentations of options under consideration by the school building committee, this vote is the first chance that the residents of town will have to fully weigh in on the scope and cost of the project. The Center School project went through two voter rejections prior to its acceptance, and we ended up with a better school as a result of this process. I have read and understand the policy of the MSBA and have concluded that this is the wrong project at this time. The state will not turn its back on Longmeadow should we decide that our town needs further deliberation before moving ahead.

Having stated my position on the project, and at the risk of reducing the discussion on the Select Board contest to a secondary referendum on the school project, it is important that Ms. Swanson’s erroneous comments on my response to a constituent’s questions be addressed. Although Ms. Swanson apparently received the entire contents of the e-mail I sent to a private individual in response to their questions, her responses to parsed quotations and selected segments appears to continue a policy of leaving no criticism unanswered and no critic unattacked.
So, item by item my responses are as follows:

click here to read the rest of Mr. Gold’s letter.

No comments: