2012-06-21 / Letters to the Editor

Council president ‘out of line’ at town meeting

At the recent Financial Town Meeting, Town Council President Michael Schnack chose to begin his remarks, not about the budget, but instead with criticism toward a certain group of taxpayers – the Taxpayers’ Association of Jamestown. He went further to add that this group – of which there are close to 100 members and growing – stirred things up with op-eds, emails and robocalls just before the FTM, and that the information presented by this group was wrong.

Schnack continued to challenge this group by stating that if there were concerns with the budget, taxpayers should have attended and participated in town and school workshops and meetings throughout the year. Association members were present at the meetings and did participate – Mr. Schnack, please watch the videos!

Mr. Schnack was either misinformed by others, or was deliberately trying to mislead the voters who were present for the meeting. School Committee Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser followed Schnack and was equally critical, calling the association’s communication approach divisive. The rants about the taxpayers association are inappropriate, particularly given that this group is not a voting entity. The Financial Town Meeting is really not the forum to platform against those who you disagree with.

As a member of the association, I can tell you that this group of taxpayers attended all three of the School Committee workshops and some members attended all meetings. Despite the “workshop” format, it was clear that decisions had already been made. We participated in the discussion, asked questions and received answers. We proposed some creative solutions for preschool tuition and the new required curriculum-director line items. School officials told us decisions were already made.

We followed with an email to the School Committee to seek clarification on some issues. The email was circulated to the committee and we received a response back from Ms. Kaiser. She did forward some of our questions to the superintendent, as they were curriculum related, but unfortunately the superintendent must have been too busy to respond. I would think a suggestion to include math training for parents and to collect parent feedback in decisions about the math curriculum would be valuable, at a relatively low cost. I guess more parental involvement is not a good idea.

Association members attended the Town Council workshops as well, and were present when it was time for the council to vote on the School Committee budget.

For everyone’s benefit, it bears repeating that the Taxpayers Association of Jamestown is a nonpartisan group made up of taxpayers who live here in Jamestown. There are Democrats, unaffi liated and Republicans, all working together on issues that affect everyone. The association seeks to raise awareness on critical issues, provide education and advocate for its members. When Mr. Schnack attempts to belittle this group, he is speaking down to some of the very people who elected him to office.

Mr. Schnack needs to issue the taxpayers an apology as his remarks were unprofessional, suggestive and out of line. Taxpayers deserve better than a “slap down” for trying to be involved.

Amy Gallagher Executive committee Taxpayers Association of Jamestown

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