, Gloucester, MA

May 22, 2013

Letter: New board must now address Manchester's needs

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Prevalent in the mental models of most Westerners is a preference for dualisms: either-or, pro-con, good-bad, rich-poor, reason-emotion, et cetera.

While dualisms may serve to reduce ambiguity and complexity, they in turn serve to polarize problems and hence, solutions. Indeed, if one is perceived to be “for” something, they are often perceived as being “against” its inverse aspect.

This is faulty logic. It is possible, for instance, to be for increasing the town’s share of its tax revenues, and not to be against excellent schools. It is a false dichotomy to believe otherwise.

At the recent Manchester candidates’ night, it was apparent that several questioners (like many residents) were confused regarding the role of the selectmen vis-a-vis the school district.

In regionalizing with Essex, the tax base for our schools was expanded, yes, but at the expense of losing direct control over our school budgets to the school district. The School Committee, in conjunction with the district administration, and the teachers’ union formulate programs and budget requirements.

The selectmen do not have the option to edit district plans, and only rarely to influence them. The selectmen’s first order of business is to address the town’s outdated, unsafe, inadequate roadways, bridges, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, and telecommunications (and add seawalls) ... topics given little attention on Candidates’ Night.

Back to the selectman candidates’ profiles and pledges, I find both irony and amusement in the pledge to increase transparency in town government, and dispel the notion that the town is run by a “cabal” of insiders.

To juxtapose this pledge with the large-type list of endorsers in the political ads of last week’s Cricket gives one pause. What threat provoked this barrage?

Multiple advocates for a lavish, ever-increasing school district budget abound. I am not among them.

A new Board of Selectmen is in place.

Is a comprehensive plan for addressing and sustaining the infrastructure needs of the town as a whole to be, or not to be?


Running Ridge Row, Manchester