PETER WHITE PRESENTS FALSE CHOICE on BUDGET: HIGHER TAXES or CUTS IN SERVICES. THAT’S FAKE, PEOPLE. TAXES CAN BE CUT with an INCREASE in services. THE PLANET SHOWS HOW
BY DAN VALENTI
FALSE CHOICE IS COLORED WHITE
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, May 31, 2011) — Ward 2 councilor Peter White posted this query on his Facebook page:
For everyone who asks me not to vote to raise taxes in Pittsfield, I ask what services would you cut from the budget?
The Planet scolds our Right Honorable Good Friend not to do this to people. Peter, you are giving them a FALSE CHOICE. You should know better. That isn’t the choice at all.
White’s question elicited 95 comments and counting. It hits a nerve because of the FALSE CHOICE he is presenting. The pity is that — since The Planet knows White to be an honest man — he actually believes that this is the “choice” come budget time. It’s not the choice. Rather, setting up the budget dilemma as a “choice” between higher taxes or loss of services is the choice THEY would have you believe.
THEY in this case consists of two constituencies, both easily definable: (1) Leaders of the Big Three unions in town — Teachers, Cops, and Firemen in descending order; (2) Gutless politicians, who are afraid of displeasing the unions because of the worst of all reasons: stinking politics.
Year After Year, the Same Phony ‘Choice’
Year after year, it’s the same false choice. The Planet has for 20 years written, broadcast, and spoken about this, and every year THEY present the old hoax. Why? Because THEY can get away with it. Why is that? Because You The People have either fallen for it or you have become so disgusted that you have opted out of the Democracy Game. That Game requires your participation, or else the skunks do what they want.
The REAL Choice for the Budget
The genuine, authentic, and real budget choice is this: Will the council provide tax relief for bedraggled homeowners and businesses or will it CUT THE FAT? The FAT is there. You can find it by examining all the provisions contained in the contracts the city has with The Big Three. Over the years, a pyramid of contract deals has escalated the cost of the status quo to unsustainable portions.
Lest anyone accuse The Planet of not providing solutions, here are SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS that, if implemented, would allow for TAX CUTS as well as maintenance or even an increase in services.
A Set of Doable Solutions
* Press each of the municipal unions, beginning with the teachers (since negotiations with them have long been under way), for givebacks. The economy has tanked. Pittsfield’s tax base is shrinking. Municipal costs are out of control. The average teachers salary is $60K a year, plus another 20K in benefits. An average of $80,000 per teacher cannot be maintained.
* Eliminate the bloated ranks of school department administration. If you go through the list of high-salaried bureaucrats and compare it will the poor results of public schools, it’s an easy choice: The ranks need thinning.
* Eliminate tenure. It protects too many bad teachers. The good teachers don’t need lifetime guarantees, since no right-minded school board would want to get rid of them.
* Givebacks should include before all else a 60-40 split on health insurance costs. Taxpayers can no longer pay 90% (retirees) and 85% (all others) for health insurance, whose costs are rising at a compunding double-digit rate. In the Dreaded Private Sector, 60% is common providing a big IF: IF the company contributes at all to cover employees with health benefits. This change will save taxpayers millions.
* Another area the council can rectify is pension reform. In the 1980s, the city council pulled a fast one, in cahoots with the muni unions. They petitioned Boston then voted to uncap pensions. That’s when the train started to leave the fiscal tracks in Pittsfield. This has led to outrageous pensions based on the the top three years of a person’s salary. That provision must go. Pensions should be capped at $30,000 a year. The council can do this with resolve and hard work. It won’t, through, because the council has no balls.
* Require and independent investigation into what appears to be a massive abuse of disability insurance and compensation claims. Too many cops, firemen, maintenance workers, and others have milked this TAX FREE lunch and stuck taxpayers with the bill. No one would deny compensation for genuine need, but there is no way the taxpayers should be paying for goldbrickers. And don’t kid yourself: They are. Totally unacceptable.
There are numerous other ways the city council can avoid the false choice that Peter White has proposed. The changes alone, suggested by The Planet above, would trim countless millions of dollars from a bloated municipal budget and allow for an increase of services.
Will You let THEM Get Away with Robbery, Again, This Year?
Eventually, it amounts to You The People. Will you let the budget hearings go by unattended, except for a committed few watchdogs? The answer will be yes. It’s a pity, because the budget hearings should be the MOST ATTENDED of the year. Council chambers should be packed, with the overflow spilling outside the building. Instead, you will hear the hollow words echoing through the near empty chambers — empty, that is, of taxpayers.
You can be sure that if it means the preservation of their fattened deals, the Big Three will pack the chambers, putting the fear of the devil into councilors. God will have nothing to do with what we can honestly call a Municipal Sin.
This is an election year. Voters take note of every councilor who sells you out. Come September and November of all the “councilor sinners.” That, The Planet realizes, presupposed a healthy turnout on Election Day. Oh, what optimists we still be!
STAY TUNED LATER TONIGHT, AS THE PLANET PRESENTS JOSH CUTLER’S GAME STORY AND OUR COLOR PIECE FROM THE ACTION AT BWP. GAMETIME AGAINST THE ROCKLAND BOULDERS IS 7 P.M. ON THE MOUND FOR THE C’S WILL BE CHAD PARONTO. BETTER YET, COME OUT TO BWP AND ENJOY THE FUN IN PERSON.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL