In my past few letters I have mentioned “The Beacon Hill Gang” (BHG). Citizens have asked me who they are and what are their goals. They are a group of Stoneham activist tied to the Beacon Hill philosophy that you can never get enough taxes and fees from the taxpayer, and that the individual taxpayers don’t know what is good for them.
This, I know better than the taxpayer attitude is best illustrated in an e-mail sent by John Warren, former Finance Board Chairman to the Director of Public Works on April 13, 2010. When the Director asked why the Finance Board wasn’t supporting the DPW, Mr. Warren responded. “Let the residents see/feel the pain in DPW this year and they will beg for three people with an override next year”.
Another strategy of the BHG is to spend tax dollars on the wants of special interests and not on what is in the best interest of Stoneham. By doing this they build indebtedness in one group to support giveaways to another group. What is best financially for the town is lost in the balance.
A perfect example of this strategy is when Ms. MacNeill pushed for and defended an 8.2 % salary increase for school employees over three years in 2009 while the town employee’s salaries were frozen. This was done in the height of the town’s economic problems, while the taxpayers were struggling to make ends meet.
A favorite strategy of the BHG is to hide their tax and spend agenda with code words. For example, when talking about the Community Preservation Act they categorize it as a “quality of life issue”, not as another tax burden on the tax payers. Whose quality of life are they trying to improve, the special interests that are standing in line to get a hold of your tax dollars, or the tax payers? They should be more concerned with the quality of life of the family whose is having a hard time to make ends meet or the senior citizen who is living on a fixed income. They should be concerned with the citizen who is unemployed or fighting to hold onto their home. The best way to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Stoneham is by tax relief not tax increases.
The BHG’s agenda is simple: They want what they want, they want now and they want you to pay for it.
This attitude was clearly exhibited in the 2010 budget process. Ms. MacNeill and Mr. Warren wanted the Selectman to institute a trash fee to fund an unbalanced budget. The Board of Selectman refused. Since they didn’t get what they wanted, they stacked the town meeting and passed an unbalanced budget. Since, the State doesn’t allow towns to have an unbalanced budget, the Selectman had to call another town meeting and a balanced budget was passed without a trash fee.
This April your choice is clear, you can stay on the course of taxpayer centered town government or switch to a Beacon Hill special interests centered town government. The choice is yours.