Government by loophole and popularity?

It’s voting time again and there are a lot of accusations of “misinformation” going around. The Town’s politicians and elite would have you believe that our low tax rate is due to having very sharp pencils and low budgets. That’s misinformation itself.
The reason we have a low tax rate is because of the very high value of properties around our many lakes. We have nearly double the taxable property valuations of similar size towns that don’t have all that waterfront.

Looking back just a year will reveal some FACTS about those who act as if it’s their job to rule us instead of serve us. Last year we were forced to vote (for a second time) on a proposed Rec Center with a five million dollar price tag. Based on your recent tax bill, aren’t you glad we didn’t take on that debt?

The proposed 2023 Town budget possibly became collateral damage from the unhappiness of the majority. Faced with a default budget, our Selectmen quickly decided who would be taken care of and who would suffer based on connections and popularity.

The three kings took away money from the food pantry and meals on wheels while still paying themselves stipends. They kept Gafney Library (which is NOT part of our town Government) afloat ($110,000) while drastically cutting some Town hall employees pay. The result was that we lost several long term loyal employees. First we lost Victor, then Cindy and recently Angie and her assistant. The Town hall was also closed on Monday, limiting your access to services you paid for but Gafney remained open!

This past summer they built a new (about $250,000) structure for the Rec dept down at the ball fields. Do you remember voting on building a new Town structure? Nope. The excuse from our rulers was that a grant had been obtained and there would be no cost to the taxpayer, yet they are already asking for donations to furnish it and we will now be on the hook for maintenance and staffing forever. The message sent to us was that they don’t need your approval to do what they want. This comes as no surprise when you have certain folks on the Rec Department who are life-long pals with certain folks on the Select Board.

Last year Budget Committe member Priscilla Colbath did not get re-elected to her position. This may have been partially due to an MRI report which showed multiple inconsistencies with her time card reporting for clerical duties as a Town employee. To this day, she maintains that she was “vindicated” by the investigation even though the report states:
“MRI finds that Colbath inconsistently complied with Town policy related to reporting her time for work performed. Town records reviewed as part of this investigation reveal that Colbath both over and under-reported time worked.”
The Selectmen did NOTHING about it and the Budget Committee VOTED HER BACK ON!!! Once again, the vote of the majority was ignored. The message was clear. They take care of their friends.

The 2024 Town Budget continues to show favoritism for the chosen few. The Rec department budget continues to balloon ($198,000 2022 & 2023 vs $249,000 for 2024.

Gafney Library is way up from $111,000 in 2023 to $199,000 in 2024. This is a privately held non-profit that owns that building. Are you ok with helping pay their debt when you were not allowed to vote on this expensive expansion? They have dug themselves a very big hole. Just drive by and have a look!
Do you realize that they could sell that building with no obligation to pay the taxpayers anything back?

And the icing on the cake: Our Selectmen voted themselves a raise in 2024!

My voting decisions are based on some very mixed feelings this year. We have already been shown that voting the budget down hurts all the wrong people. But how else can we send the message that we are tired of this government by loophole and popularity? My confidence in these Boards is at an all time low.

I have felt encouraged that some new folks are willing to serve the community on the budget committee.
I hope they replace Tom Daniels who has shown us that he will misuse his position to promote HIS agenda and that of his friends. If he wants fancy rec centers and high taxes, why doesn’t he just move back to Newburyport Mass? Aren’t Budget Committee members supposed to look for ways to save us tax dollars?

Tom, Priscilla and Jerry O also blatantly used their Budget positions to take revenge on Relf Fogg by removing some funding away from the two Boards (Assessors and Conservation ) that Relf serves on, even though the Selectmen did NOT recommend it! The removed Conservation money ($3500/yr) has always been used to help families send their kids to conservation camp. These three stooges hate for Relf is now punishing some familes in our community. Elected members allowing their emotions to influence their political decisions is a disservice to those who placed confidence in them. The only cure for this embarassing behaviour is to vote them out.

I was disappointed that not even one person ran for Selectman. Duffy might be likable but he is just a follower, not a leader. And we will now have him for another three years. Until we start replacing that good ole boy network with fresh blood, we can expect to have more of the same lack of leadership and government by loophole and popularity. If we don’t change that, we deserve what we get.

J.M.

The 2024 Wakefield Town Budget
http://talkingwakefield.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/01.03.24Wakefield-2024budget.pdf

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous said:

    Thank You

    March 9, 2024
    Reply
  2. Anonymous said:

    There used to be more significant coverage on ClearView (@Vimeo) in the past, in example timeliness of video release and relevant candidate interviews (currently none other than the budget committee ’roundtable’). That’s not a criticism as there might well be rational causes/reasons in today’s environment of which I’m not aware. Is there something that can be done to better it?

    It’s a valuable asset that now seems lacking. I know, Jim, you’re no longer involved but thought because of your experience you might have insight.

    March 10, 2024
    Reply

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