Category Archives: Education

Education in Newburyport, MA

Newburyport, Proposed 40R Smart Growth Update

Here is a link to the application that the City of Newburyport made for the proposed 40R Smart Growth District (It has all kinds of links and information on it), it can be found here.

Here is a photo of the proposed Minco building (it is now in the public domain), which is the cornerstone of the proposed 40R District, and that I think is  ugly.

Minco Building

The Minco building

Here are two of the new maps of the proposed Smart Growth 40R

Smart Growth 40R map

40R Smart Growth map

Smart Growth 40R map

Smart Growth 40R map

And here is a table for the Water and Sewer capacity for the 40R District which also includes the number of bedrooms and the number of apartment units.

Water and Sewer capacity and number of bedroom and units

Water and Sewer capacity and number of bedroom and units

 

Newburyport’s 40R, Trying to Bring Back Rental Units to the City, and the Income Gap by 2010

Income percentages in Newburyport from 1989-2010 from the City of Newburyport's website

Income percentages in Newburyport from 1989-2010 from the City of Newburyport’s website

It is really hard to find a place to rent in Newburyport these days. If you go to Zillow and look for rentals in Newburyport, it’s very depressing.  That is why the city is so hopeful about the proposed 40R, which is a real effort to bring back rental units back to Newburyport.

Here is a document from the city that articulates with data the gentrification that has taken place since Urban Renewal, especially interesting is the “Income Distribution by Household, 1989 to 2010″ on page 20 (an image of the table is in this post), that document can be read here.

In 1989 the largest percentage of income was $10,000-24,999. In 2010 the largest percentage is $150,000+, and that is in 2010, when we were still in the “great recession,” and I would think in 2015 that percentage would be much, much greater now.

And here is Jerry Mullins’, over at Brick and Tree, worst fears about what would happen to the proposed 40R. That post can be read here.

And here is a link to the discussion on The Newburyport Blog’s Facebook page, it can be read here.

Previous post on the proposed 40R District can be found here.

Here are some more table from the City of Newburyport’s report “Income Distribution by Household, 1989 to 2010.”

renters

Renters and Owners

Housing values

Housing values

Rental costs

Rental costs

And here is a map of the proposed 40R Smart Growth District.

A map of Newburyport's proposed 40R District.

A map of Newburyport’s proposed 40R District.

The First Draft of the 40R District around the Train Station

I’ve seen the first draft of the new 40R Smart Growth District around the train station.

The proposed 40R District (see previous post) would allow for mixed use buildings near the train station, traffic circle, parts of Rt 1 and the area on lower State Street between Lunt and Kelly and the edge of the cemetery. There is a new updated map (see below), the larger area subdistrict B is zoned for 4 story buildings (45 ft), Subdistricts A and C is zoned for 3 story building (35 ft), and the Minco building would be zoned for 5 stories (55 ft).

Portland-Wikipedia

Four story buildings in Portland Maine, please press image to enlarge.

And I’ve gone on a hunt for some good looking 4 story buildings. I have found only one photo that is in the public domain, it is in Portland Maine.

I’m a little confused about Google’s copyright laws, and WordPress does not allow me to embed Google’s images, so what I’ve done is put links to 4 story buildings in Portland ME, Providence RI and Haverhill MA. Haverhill has, on Washington Street, what I think is a gorgeous, but rundown historic section of 4 story building. I love them.

And when you press on the links for the different cities, you can go on a “Google drive” through the areas and see what you thinks works and what does not work. Interesting stuff. Also, the buildings take a few seconds to show up after you press the links.

Portland Maine’s links can he found here, here, here, here and here.
Providence Rhode Island’s links can be found here, here and here.
Haverhill Mass links can be found here, here and here.

Newburyport-40R-Smart-Growth-Village-District-Map-1-20-2015

Updated 40R Smart Growth Village District map, please press image to enlarge.

In looking at the initial 40R draft (this is just the beginning of a large process that the city will go through) a couple of things stand out.

1) The design review is outstanding. Yah!! I hope that means that the Minco building will be forced to look awesome.

2) There is extensive input into the affordable housing aspect of the district (I’m sure the affordable housing folks with Phd’s in the subject, will have lots of input). It looked great to me.

3) Parking seems a little “skimpy” to me. A residential unit only gets one parking spot. But there is “shared parking,” with businesses and residents, which use parking at different times during the day and week, the objective being not to have lots of wasted, barren parking lots. There are so many people in this city who have Phd’s in parking, and I am not one of them. I am hoping, and pretty sure that they would figure out the “Goldilocks” version of parking, “not too much, not too little, but just right.”

4) The setbacks of the buildings are puzzling to me. There are “no requirements” on setbacks on front, side and rear yards. The way it was explained to me is that there would be no requirements for setbacks for mid-block buildings, but it might be a good idea to look at the setback requirements for intersections (and there seem to me to be a whole lot of intersections). At this point, we do not have close-up renderings of what buildings would look like in different areas of the proposed 40R District.

This is one of my main questions. I can’t imagine 4 story building around the traffic circle where Dunkin’ Donuts is and where the Bird Watcher is located. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live on that dangerous and noisy area, and being so close to a busy traffic circle. Renderings are definitely needed.

5) Not in the 1st draft, but backup information that would be arriving in the coming weeks that would include:

(1) estimated maximum dwelling units
(2) expected sewer flows (and how to pay for them)
(3) expected traffic impacts
(4) renderings/photo-simulations of new buildings
(5) expected impacts on schools
(6) expected c. 40R and c. 40S payments from the Commonwealth
(7) expected property tax revenues

Newburyport and Massachusetts Primary Wins

VOTE

Newburyport and Massachusetts Primary Wins:

Ed Cameron wins the Democratic primary for State Rep. for 1st Essex District.

Kathleen O’Connor Ives wins the Democratic primary for State Senator for 1st Essex District.

Seth Moulton wins over John Tierney in the Democratic primary for US House, 6th District.

Maura Healey wins the Democratic primary for Massachusetts Attorney General.

New Newburyport City Council Committees

The Newburyport City Council has very important committees where the difficult work of the City Council gets done. The president of the Newburyport City Council appoints the people on the committees.  For 2014 the Newburyport City Council committees are as follows:

Budget and Finance:
Chair-Charles Tontar, Ed Cameron, Robert Cronin

Planning and Development:
Chair-Ed Cameron, Barry Connell, Jared Eigerman

Neighborhoods and City Services:
Chair-Barry Connell, Ari Herzog, Meghan Kinsey

License and Permits:
Chair-Allison Heartquist, Bruce Vogel, Meghan Kinsey

Joint Education:
Chair-Meghan Kinsey, Allison Heartquist, Larry Giunta

Public Utilities:
Chair-Ari Herzog, Jared Eigerman, Bruce Vogel.

Public Safety:
Chair-Robert Cronin, Larry Giunta, Charles Tontar

General Government:
Tom O’Brien, Bruce Vogel, Mayor Donna Holaday

Rules:
Chair-Robert Cronin, Larry Giunta, Tom O’Brien

Where to Vote Tuesday, November 5th 2013

Where to vote

Where to vote

There is  a very cool tool to find out where to vote in Newburyport, this Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

You just enter your street number, the street’s name, and your city or town, or your zip code, and voila, it tells you exactly where to go (it even tells you which ward you are in, and how to get in touch with the City Clerk). It can be found here.

The people of Newburyport will be voting for a Mayor (a 4 year term, not a 2 year term), for 5 Newburyport City Council At-Large candidates, Newburyport City Council candidates in Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5, and 3 Newburyport School Committee members.

Voting hours are 7am to 8pm.

Be sure to vote.

I will most likely go down to City Hall at 8pm, and will post the election results on the Newburyport Blog and the Newburyport Blog’s Facebook page.

Here is a sample ballot for the Newburyport At-Large Candidates.

Newburyport At-Large Ballot

Newburyport At-Large Ballot

Newburyport Schools are Doing Awesome-Congratulations

From today’s Newburyport Daily News

Newburyport Leads Local Schools in MCAS Results

“The state released the results of the Spring 2013 MCAS, and once again local schools outperformed the state average in nearly every category, with Newburyport leading the way.

Overall, Newburyport had the highest scores across all grade levels and subjects in the region…”

Congratulations to all our wonderful teachers. The complete story can be read here.

Not Qualified to be Mayor

As I recall, in the 2001 election, people voted for Al Lavender, as a reaction against Mayor Lisa Mead (not a “for” Al Lavender vote). I thought Lisa Mead was an incredibly competent mayor. And I feel that we are still recovering from the consequences of two years of Al Lavender’s tenure in the corner office (we are still cleaning up the landfill, which has caused untold misery–something that came out of Al Lavender’s two year term).

I would like a smart, well educated (more than a high school education), competent person, who can deal with an array of complex issues, in the corner office for the next four years, someone with a lot of executive experience (this is one complicated city to run) (a retired firefighter and a Home Depot greeter does not do it for me).

I think firefighters are incredible people, unbelievably brave, but with a skill set that, in my mind, does not translate into dealing with the incredibly complex issues that the Mayor of Newburyport deals with.

I would surely like to see the electorate vote with their intelligence, instead of reacting emotionally, and to see this not just as a one issue election (i.e. the Waterfront).

And I also think, given his resume, that if Dick Sullivan didn’t have the last name “Sullivan,” no one would take his candidacy seriously for being the CEO of this complicated city.

Plagiarism – Photoshop Take Off

Photoshop Flight

Photoshop Flight

I never, ever would have considered using other people’s images that are in the public domain in my art work, it would be plagiarism for me.  Plagiarism – I would have felt it to be “immoral,” “originality” the only acceptable device. But blogging, doing content for people’s websites, the World Wide Web has radically and slowly changed my whole idea of how to use images. Before starting the Newburyport Blog I never knew about stuff/images that are in the “public domain.”  I now bless the public domain, it makes what I do here and what other people do all across the web a whole lot more interesting. So why not use images that are in the public domain in my own art work? These are images I could never take, either because they are in a geographical location that I would never get to, or with equipment I would never buy.

Photoshop Bird 3 (thanks Bobby)

Photoshop Bird 3 (thanks Bobby)

And photoshop (see earlier entry on fine art, painting in particular, going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter), what one can do in photoshop in a few minutes would take me years to do as a painter. It’s irresistible. So I’ve started experimenting. And how fun!! Like being in a candy store for this artist.  A photoshop take off, a lovely New Year’s present for moi.

George is Grinning and Orren Fox

George

George

George is grinning, huge wide smile, and those of you who have been readers of the Newburyport Blog for any length of time know that George is usually a glum sort of fellow, even with his passionate romance to Georgiana Tadpole (if you really would like to know about any of this frog stuff please press here).

Instead of telling the readers of the Newburyport Blog what is making George smile so hugely right off the bat (although he’s not smiling in the picture, I couldn’t get one of him smiling), I’m going to start at the beginning.

Way, way back (“in the day,” I’m not sure if it’s that far back) in 1990 I painted a whole bunch of paintings for a major New York show, oil on panel, and the panels warped (I used the wrong kind of panel – never did it again).  Panic city, you betcha.  I went to what was then Wendover Woodworks on Liberty Street in Newburyport, and one of the owners, Andy Willemsem saved my sorry soul by making some absolutely gorgeous frames that solved the warping problem and saved yours truly.  It was then I met Andy’s partner in this wonder furniture creating place, Henry Fox.

About 15 years ago, wandering around my Newburyport neighborhood, I ran into Henry Fox, who told me the harrowing tale of his son, born 3 months early with a host of medical problems who had been saved by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MassGeneral in Boston, and had just been moved to one of the more local hospitals.  I later shared this story with other families who had critically ill new borns, including my most wonderful neighbors, who found themselves and their newborn son also at MassGeneral. (The young man is now happily running around our neighborhood.)

Andy Willemsen moved on and Henry Fox named his wonderful furniture business after his two sons, “Fox Brothers.” (Still there on Liberty Street in Newburyport, still amazing.)

Fast forward to 2012, yesterday, a “new” or “new” to me, George and I being 5 years late to the story (not quite as bad as my late arrival to the David Sedaris planet, see earlier post, but not so good)  local Newburyport blog called “Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs,” by a fifteen year old young man called Orren Fox.

I’m thinking Fox?? Fox?? Henry Fox?? The timing’s right.

And sure enough this blog is written by Henry’s son Orren, the one in intensive care 15 years ago.  How cool is that, but it gets so much better.

Scrolling down the blog’s sidebar the young man has been interviewed/written up by the Huffington Post, NPR, Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe to name a few, and has been to the White House, March 7, 2012,  for “Know Your Farmer Event.”

I’m beginning to join George in grinning from ear to ear about this young chicken farmer and organic food activist.

“Margaret Mead would have loved Orren.  A soulful and gifted young man who has done more to help make a positive impact by 15 than most folks do in a lifetime.” From Do Lectures.

And Orren has added bees, in “Bee Happy” – check it out here.

AND Orren has serendipitly gone into business with his brother Will (with a little help from Dad) making “FoxBoys” longboards, skateboards in the most glorious shape, a little like a boat, read and see all about them here.

And Orren Fox is so media savvy as to make grown “social media” folks weep – along with the Happy Chickens blog there are the Facebook pages that one actually enjoys looking at and reading, and twitter accounts.  But it may be in the blood because his Mom, who gave birth to him all those many 15 years ago, is Libby Delana, the founding partner of Newburyport’s Mechanica, the next generation branding firm.

So if you are discouraged by the news or local or federal politics, life in general, go investigate Orren Fox, a young man who transcends the sustainable movement.  It doesn’t matter if you are dark “green,” light “green,” in-between or orange; right wing, left wing, moderate or independent.  When you read about this fantastic story, you like George, will be grinning from ear to ear and doing a dance in the end zone of your choice.

Katy Ives Running for State Senate

Our very own Katy Ives (Newburyport City Councilor) is running for Massachusetts State Senate (the First Essex District, Senator Steve Baddour’s old Senate seat), and she would be terrific!!

voteives

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

Check out Katy’s campaign website!

Check out Katy’s Facebook page!

Check out Katy’s first campaign video on YouTube.  You will see lots of Newburyport friends, conservative, progressive and in between, all explaining why she would be such a great State Senator!!

The Newburyport School Vote and Senior Center Passes

The Newburyport school vote and the Senior Center Passes!!

Good go’n Newburyport!!

Below are the election results thanks to the Port Pride Facebook page!!

School vote and Senior Center passes (photo thanks to the Port Pride Facebook page)

School vote and Senior Center passes (photo thanks to the Port Pride Facebook page)

Here is a breakdown of the voting totals, thanks to Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron.

Question 1, Building a new Bresnahan Model School building (Press to enlarge)

Question 1, press to enlarge

Question 1, (Press to enlarge)

Question 2, Renovating and upgrading the Nock/Molin Upper Elementary school (Press to enlarge)

Question 2 (Press to enlarge)

Question 2 (Press to enlarge)

Question 3, Building a new Senior & Community Center (Press to enlarge)

Question 3 (Press to enlarge)

Question 3 (Press to enlarge)

All three questions together (Press to enlarge)

Newburyport Election, June 5, 2012

Newburyport Election, June 5, 2012 (Press to enlarge)

They did it

Green Theatre Collective at Sylvester Manor, Shelter Island, NY, Season 2011, As You LIke It (press image to enlarge).

Green Theatre Collective at Sylvester Manor, Shelter Island, NY, As You LIke It (press image to enlarge).

They did it. Green Theatre Collective (GTC) raised $10,000 in 4 weeks.  Oh me of little faith.  And that means that this eco-theater company with its roots (pun intended) in Newburyport, can gather the just plain old lovely young men and women who made up the company last year, and go for it again this year, this time with Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, The Tempest.

And GTC had its maiden voyage right here in Newburyport, Massachusetts, sponsored by Theater in the Open, in a gorgeous setting for Shakespeare’s As You Like It at Maudslay State Park last summer.  With a big thank you for a plug by Tom Salemi  at Newburyport Posts and JC Lockwood at Newbuyrport Arts, along with the Newburyport Daily News and the Newburyport Current.

Ok, its personal. The GTC founder and Executive Producer is my son, Hal Fickett, who got his education right here in Newburyport, Massachusetts (yes, we do have great schools that are most worthy of our support).  And the first performance was dedicated to most beloved Newburyport High School theater teacher, Suzanne Bryan and all Newburyport educators (those graduates do appreciate you folks!).

Am I proud and excited for this young eco-theater company.  You betcha!

Green Theatre Collective at Maudslay State Park, Newburyport, MA, Season 2011 (press image to enlarge).

Green Theatre Collective at Maudslay State Park, Newburyport, MA, As You Like It (press image to enlarge).

Newburyport 2011 Election Results

Newburyport City Councilor At-Large

Ed Cameron

Barry Connell

Ari Herzog

Larry Giunta

Steve Hutcheson

Katy O’Connor Ives

Dick Sullivan Jr.


Winners:

Barry Connell

Katy O’Connor Ives

Ari Herzog

Ed Cameron

Dick Sullivan Jr.


The Newburyport Charter:

Yes

No

Charter passes by more than a 2 to 1 margin.

Newburyport School Committee:

Nick de Kanter

Audrey McCarthy

Peter McClure

Bruce Menin


Winners:

Nick de Kanter

Audrey McCarthy

Bruce Menin


Mayor Donna Holaday re-elected (running unopposed)

Congratulations to all who won and all who ran, and everyone who worked so hard.

Breakdown of the Newburyport City Council At-Large election results, thanks to Ed Cameron (press image to enlarge).

Election Results Nov 2011

Election Results Nov 2011- Press image to enlarge

A Picture of Winning, Newburyport Election 2009

I had never really thought that there was any correlation between painting, my painting (see previous post) and my love of local politics. But after this last political race, 2009, I’m beginning to think differently.

When I start a painting there is an idea, the canvas is “blocked in” with shapes, the shapes become more and more detailed until, voila, there is a realistic painting.

And in this mayoral race it took a long time for me to see a picture taking shape, but the last weekend before the Newburyport election 2009 and especially the day of the election 2009, it seemed to me that there was no question that Donna Holaday would win.

About two weeks before the election it became clear, for a variety of reasons, the interviews in The Newburyport Liberator being one of them, that there was a huge difference in the way the two candidates approached the Central Waterfront (see earlier entries). And the there was no question that Donna Holaday had the “Waterfront” vote, a vote in Newburyport, never to be underestimated.

By that weekend, it was obvious to me that Donna Holaday had the “City Hall vote,” and the folks at Newburyport City Hall vote, and their ties in Newburyport’s community go deep.

It was also apparent that candidate Holaday had the “townie” vote (except for those who were a little concerned that she might not be as firm about the “override” issue as James Shanley). James Shanley was perceived as the candidate who was the “new comer,” who could take away their town. (I do not happen to think that this is true, but that appeared to be the perception.)

Donna Holaday had the enthusiastic education vote, a large block of voters. Ms Holaday had the “Back Bay vote,” basically anyone in town that really disliked the wind turbine (see earlier entries), which is a huge portion (politically correct or not) of Newburyport’s population.

The historic preservation vote was split.

And when the list of contributors came out, it was perceived that James Shanley was in the pocket of the developers. I know James Shanely, and I know that this is absolutely not the case, although it was the perception. (Mr. Shanley had worked very closely as a Newburyport City Councilor with the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, a member of which was a major player on his very organized campaign, and my guess is that a lot of the business community gave donations as a result.)

And then there was the fact that Donna Holaday has a huge name recognition, for a whole variety of reasons. And also, a lot of folks in town know that we have a mayor, but they don’t know that we have a Newburyport City Council, much less that we have a president of the Newburyport City Council. So the fact that James Shanley was the president of the Newburyport City Council meant absolutely nothing to a large majority of folks that don’t pay a whole lot of attention to Newburyport politics.

Newburyport is not Pleasantville

If anyone thinks that Newburyport, MA has gradually turned into a bland and happy version of Pleasantville, they are most decidedly wrong.

One of the things that I detect in the upcoming Newburyport 2009 election is still a strong and virulent backlash against the “Yes for Newburyport” campaign in the spring of 2007.

Dan Sweeney, aka “Pedro” of the Around the North Shore who has taken out papers for mayor of Newburyport, MA is probably the most “to the point,” vocal candidate so far, that would give voice to this point of view. “Pedro” has had a great deal to say on the matter, all of which is public record on Around the North Shore, and all of which I imagine he still stands by, otherwise Mr. Sweeney would not be running for mayor of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

But in taking a gander at some of the various folks who have taken out papers to run for Newburyport City Council, there is a strong undercurrent of sentiment aligned with Dan Sweeney’s, although I imagine when it comes down to it, the tone could be more nuanced. In checking out the story on Clete Kijek (see earlier entry), who is running against Ed Cameron in the Ward 4 race, the date on the story about his giant truck urging people to vote on the override is May 16, 2007. It is stated that Mr. Kijek is a member of the anti-override group Know Newburyport.

So one of the spoken or unspoken issues of the local Newburyport 2009 race would be whether or not our local taxes would be raised, especially for the young children in our Newburyport school system. And my guess would also be that another undercurrent would be that old feisty Newburyport spirit–“Newcomers,” however that may be defined, aren’t going to take over our town, no way, no how.

The candidates that embody this point of view might not win, but it would be my guess that they would like to make sure that folks in Newburyport, MA know that they are still very much part of the picture.

Dehumanizing Social Media

This will make me hugely popular. We finally have a president who speaks thoughtfully and in complete sentences–even paragraphs. I find this refreshing.

And I look at Twitter and for the most part, it verbally looks like a Google Earth close up of a mangled beaver swamp. (Yes, I know our new president Twitters, but he Twitters with a purpose and in complete sentences.)

And yes, I ripped off the Google Earth thing from a blog post on the Huffington Post called “What Sentence Diagrams Reveal About President Obama”, by Jason Linkins. The quote was, “By contrast, the diagrams of typical George W. Bush sentences are indistinguishable from Google Earth close ups of small rodents, drowned in mud puddles.” I like that quote. Obviously, I like it a lot.

Yesterday, much to my surprise, people emailed me, and not only don’t seem to be fond of “comments” on blogs, etc, but appear to find a lot of the social media stuff, the virtual-contact, meaningless, dehumanizing, especially if it takes the place of face to face, person to person, real human contact.

Works for me.

I actually phone folks who leave comments on blogs, etc., who have problems with the Newburyport Blog, because I have this quaint belief in human contact, or at least voice generated contact, as a way of communicating. I’ve yet to have one of those phone calls returned. Voicemail is such a wonder when it comes to avoiding “stuff.”

I am being very cynical today, but it appears to me that social media, Twitter, Facebook, is often used as a great Search Engine tool (SEO) to get blogs and websites to rank high on search engines. A bastardization if you would of its probable original intent.

And for an educated society, to have one of their major communicating tools take the form of 140 characters or less, is to me is a huge, waving, red flag. Are we going from a nation of sound-bites, to a nation of “tweets?” A nation where thoughtful sentences and paragraphs are a thing of the past–a passé, elite Liberal agenda. I hope not. I’m a big fan of the well written, and spoken, at times lengthy, written word.

Newburyport, Losing Funding for Education

As many of the readers of the Newburyport Blog know, I am a big fan of Bill Moyers.

On September 5, 2008 Bill Moyers had this to say at the beginning of the segment on the Bill Moyers Journal:

“Fifty million American children went back to school this week. But as reporter Sam Dillon writes in the “New York Times”, more of them than ever are homeless and poor enough to need free meals. Mortgage foreclosures are throwing hundreds of families out of their homes each month. With fuel and food costs rising, with tax revenues falling, school budgets are in retreat. Detroit, for example, has laid off 700 teachers. We’re not talking about just a few isolated places. This is nationwide…

The Bush Administration was announcing an increase in American aid to Georgia by more than 1500 percent… From 64 million dollars this year to one billion dollars next year. A billion dollars. You can only wonder how many American kids a billion dollars could put back on the buses, back in class, and back in the cafeteria line.”

You can read the whole transcript here.

And this is one of the things that concerns me. We as a country have the Bush administration (I trust Bill Moyers) allocating one billion dollars next year to Georgia (the country not the state). One billion dollars that could have gone to the education of the children in the United States of America. Money that we in Newburyport, MA would not see go towards funding for our much under-funded public schools.

Come January, I want a president who would be wise and prudent in spending our tax dollars, who would make sure that, yes, the war on terror is vital, but so is the education of our children. I want a president who understands that. I do not want another four years of a Bush-Cheney administration.

Newburyport, Education and the Election

I’ve been consumed by the national election for president. Nothing on the local level (at least as of today) seems to be as intriguing as what is happening on the presidential campaign front.

And, for me, there is so much that would effect us locally in Newburyport, MA, depending on the outcome of the presidential election.

At the moment, mayor John Moak is asking the citizens of Newburyport, MA to consider voting on a tax increase to help with, among other things, education in Newburyport, MA.

This is at a time when people are loosing their jobs, not getting pay increases, dealing with the high cost of gasoline, increased cost of groceries and other staples, getting ready for more expensive heating and electric bills for the winter. This would be a tough sell for our mayor at any time, and it is a particularly tough sell at this point in tough economic times.

And we need a lot more money to help educate our children.

And one of the things that we as a community in Newburyport, MA, have discovered during the ordeal of the Override for funding for our schools last year, is that there is little help from the State of Massachusetts, one of the reasons being, the Federal government is not helping the states, or at least our state, with money to adequately fund education.

So I want someone in the White House next January who is going to pay attention and help local education, as well as help the financial plight of small cities and towns all across America. And during the last eight years we certainly have not seen the local support that we in Newburyport, MA need so badly, from the current administration. And I doubt we would see an improvement in support for our small cities and towns from 4 more years of a Republican administration.

It is one of the many reasons that I would like to see a Democrat in the White House.

And to compare the candidates’ voting records and educational priorities, I found a helpful site here and here.

Inspirational Change

My father (see previous post) was a realist. He knew change could be inspirational, and although daily, informal encounters could change people’s lives (and his did), he also believed that inspirational change could cost money. Often lots and lots of money.

My dad was a Roosevelt Democrat, and felt quite strongly that for people who had money, paying taxes was a patriotic act. And if people didn’t want to pay taxes, that provisions should be made to either compliment what the government could do, or create an entity that undertook a project that the government should, but refused to do.

And as a tax lawyer (way before being a “lawyer” became not such a good attribute, when lawyers, in general, believed in service, not how much money can I make) he persuaded his clients to do things like fund research for mental illness, at a time when no one talked about mental illness, or look for a cure for cancer, and fund stem cell research, when, for example, the present administration had “reservations” about such things.

And face it, one of the reasons Newburyport’s downtown is so inspirational, is that it was funded by lots and lots of federal dollars.

My father also understood the stresses of poverty. He fought for a compassionate solution to homelessness in New York City, and believed that the criminal justice system in New York City had the potential to be humane. And he raised the money (a talent my father had, and a gene his daughter did not receive) to attempt to make these goals attainable.

To make the educational system for our children “inspirational,” it would not only take the guardian angles that inhabit it, but also lots and lots of money to restore all the cuts that have been made over so many years. My father would have understood this. But he also would have believed that it would not be right to raise money on the backs of the struggling poor and middle class.

The same would go for such things as creating a senior center, and for funding the Council on Aging to an “inspirational” level.

And what to do at budget time with dealing and coping with the myriad of valuable projects and issues, all of which need to be funded, but where funds are lacking, I have no idea.

I do know, that to make many of them “inspirational,” lots and lots of money, would go a long, long way. I also believe that to raise taxes in Newburyport, MA that would put the less fortunate and middle class in crisis, would be a huge mistake.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport