Newburyport, Coffee and the Override

On Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 8:30 in the morning I was invited to have coffee at one of my “young” neighbor’s house (I think that they are adorable, the “young” family), to have a civil discussion about the $1.58Million override for our schools. (Election May 22, 2007)

I’m not exactly “on the planet” at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. And I had my doubts about whether a civil discussion would be possible on the override, should their be different points of view.

I managed to get there about 9:30 and mouthed the word “coffee” to my very adorable young neighbors, and they very graciously handed me a cup of coffee ASAP.

The Vice-Chair of the Newburyport School Committee was there as well as the chair for the “Yes for Newburyport” pro-override group.

When everyone had left, my neighbors and the chair of the “Yes for Newburyport” pro-override group asked me what it would take for me to change my mind about the override for our Newburyport schools.

And this is what I told them (in no particular order).

1) We all agreed that the “eye rolling” (or what I call the “eye rolling attitude”) was a huge mistake, and needed to come to an end ASAP. There was unanimous consent on that one. They had become well aware of the “eye rolling” problem.

2) Just last December 2006 we were talking about an override for, in my opinion, an unbelievably expensive and ridiculously elaborate building plan for our elementary schools. The plan is still on the Newburyport School’s website and to my knowledge, the plan has not been voted off the table. This is very confusing to the voters of Newburyport, MA. My suggestion was for the Newburyport School Committee to vote that plan off the table ASAP.

They agreed.

3) One of my major concerns is the fact that health care for the city of Newburyport, MA is a skyrocketing expense, and in 2-3 years could make an investment in an override for our schools moot, by gnawing away at the proposed tax increase.

My suggestion, was for the “Yes for Newburyport” pro-override group to come up with a long term state and local plan to address that issue, whether it is from a Republican point of view, or a Democratic point of view, and lead the way to beginning to solve that “Pac-Man” (does that date me or what) of an issue.

They agreed.

4) I suggested that they talk to all the Newburyport City Councilors who originally voted against the override (all 7 of them), and ask them about their ideas to curb the skyrocketing expenses concerning our city budget. The idea being, instead of preaching to folks, to ask them for their input, knowledge and ideas. To build bridges instead of razing them.

They also thought that was a good idea. (I’m batting 4 for 4 here.)

One of the things that they said to me was, “Mary, we are really new at this and we need all the help that we can get.” They also said that they had learned a lot.

As a city, we have a young, very intelligent and very well educated group of people who have all of a sudden become very involved in the political process. My great hope is that this new group would be able to see the bigger picture and how it involves them. And then help us as a city, problem solve the very difficult and complex issues that are before us, our schools being one of many pressing problems at hand.

Mary Eaton