Friday, April 4, 2003
Introduction by candidate for board of selectmen
To the Editor:
I am delighted to be running as a candidate for the board of selectmen. I would like to take this opportunity to acquaint voters with my qualifications, and views on issues currently facing Carlisle residents.
I have a broad view of many aspects of our town from a variety of perspectives. As an employee of the town for three years, I have served the conservation commission and assisted the historical commission for two years. I was formerly a member of the planning board in Concord before moving to Carlisle center in June of 2000. I have a degree in architecture from UC Berkeley and have interest and experience in land planning issues.
My two children are in the Carlisle Public Schools. I have always been an active supporter of education as well as the community.
I am particularly sympathetic toward our seniors and feel strongly that affordable housing should accommodate those who do not deserve to be displaced at the most financially vulnerable time of their lives.
I am an environmentalist who values the vision that the citizens of Carlisle had in the previous century. Their efforts have allowed us to enjoy such a unique place of beauty today.
I know firsthand many of the difficulties facing our town and its government and specifically those issues that prevent it from running efficiently. Our financial crisis is not just about the bottom line but includes the processes that got us to this crossroads. I know the dedicated staff at the Town Hall, and many of their assets that are under-utilized. I am concerned that the fabric of our community has eroded as a result of too many well-intentioned regulations imposed on homeowners. I am also well aware of the traffic issues facing our town and have witnessed firsthand tractor-trailer trucks speeding through Carlisle center at 3 a. m.
I know that with every new job there is a learning curve. I am motivated to learn what I do not yet know. Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself. I hope that you will vote for me for selectman.
Plea for compassion
To the Editor:
Recently I had dinner at a local French restaurant. The atmosphere was warm, the service friendly and the food mouth-wateringly good. The chef happened by our table and I commented that there seemed to be fewer than usual patrons for a Saturday night. He said business had fallen off seventy-five percent since France refused to support our invasion of Iraq. He added this was also the case for other restaurants in the area and shops selling French products. I was appalled.
It amazed me that people in our educated, professional and largely well-to-do community of towns would boycott local businesses merely because they offered French fare. Have people stopped eating McDonald's French fries? Maybe fast-food chains have followed the lead of our Congress, who, rather than remove fries and F-toast from their cafeteria menu, decreed their being renamed to Freedom fries and toast. Shall we stop dining at Mexican and Chinese restaurants or any ethnic restaurant serving the cuisine of a country failing to march in lock-step with us? We've been quick to demonize our allies who've exercised their right to free speech and the freedom to make considered choices for which we fight so righteously and sadly, it appears this chauvinism has spread into our community and harmed not only businesses innocently serving French fare, but ourselves.
How I feel about the war that rages in Iraq is irrelevant, but that it should have such thoughtless repercussions in our relatively safe community is unthinkable. Such narrowness of mind and heart is far more frightening to me than the chance of a terrorist attack in my neighborhood. The blessing of good food, good service, good people doing business (not politics) is one of the benefits of our "free" country. I don't believe the sudden and enormous drop in local business is due entirely to people being careful in their spending. Isn't this the time to exercise rigorous thinking about what is truly important in our lives and exhibit compassionate behavior towards all of our neighbors, no matter their apparent affiliations. They aren't the enemy.
Holly N. Fordyce
Atkins supporting environmental bills
To the Editor:
At a meeting with State Representative Cory Atkins on March 27, local members of the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow discussed proactive bills that replace the ten most toxic chemicals in consumer products with safe alternatives, reduce mercury in the environment, and promote non-toxic pest management. Repre-sentative Atkins will be writing letters of support to the chairmen of the responsible committees for these bills. To thank her office directly, call her at 1-617-722-2040.
Request for large school budget increase is a systemic problem
To the Editor:
In this difficult year let us not forget that the school budget problem is systemic. Each year we see school budget requests for increases of 10 to 15 percent. And each year the requests are squeezed down at the expense of school physical plant and the other town departments because we cannot cut "contracted expenses." It is ironic that we struggle with "affordable housing" issues at the same time we are making housing unaffordable to many of our neighbors. And to those who want to blame the problem on state reimbursements, remember that the state has no money except your tax dollars.
By law these contracted expenses are negotiated under a ten-watt bulb (no public scrutiny or input to the process) and announced as a fait accompli. The state legislature needs to change this.
Since, there is not much chance for promotion as a teacher, salaries are based on a contract negotiated "grid" using seniority and continuing education and not merit, which is claimed to be difficult to judge.
Does continuing education and advanced degrees actually improve the education our children get? Is a teacher with 15 years of experience always better than one with 10, or 5 years of experience?
The contracted four classes/day also significantly impacts the budget, and a teacher's calculated compensation, since pay must be calculated on the number of hours worked not only per year, but per day.
I am not anti-teacher or schools. In fact a systemic solution to this problem must come from the teachers through their union. I challenge them to consider new ways to calculate compensation based on merit, with considerations to the broader impacts of salary burdens on taxpayers and students. If the teachers make an effort in this direction, I will be 100% behind them.
Here's one idea for a start... give the schools a pool of money for salary increases and let the superintendent/ principal (the boss) make decisions on increases with input from teachers, students and parents (the customers). Isn't that the way it is done in private schools, and in business in general? Radical? Perhaps, but it is time for new thinking.
Log Hill Road
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