More Inspiring, Less Compounding Needed from Westfield's City Council


The only thing we have to fear is...the pie chart?
The only thing we have to fear is...the pie chart?
 
In just a few decades we've gone from leaders who tell us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself to leaders whose first instinct is to consult their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, min and max solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of our debts, transactions and investments before determining whether we can get anything done. Do you think JFK worked endless nights alone with his slide rule to determine if it was financially feasible to put men on the moon before the decade was out? Of course he didn't.
 
What Westfield needs is councilors with vision and leadership ability. Leaders who can set agendas, paint pictures of the kind of community we want to live in and inspire us to sacrifice a little to help achieve our goals whatever they may be. Kowtowing to the deficit crows and making priority number one shaving a few bucks off their tax bill is not leadership, it is not visionary, and it is not inspiring. In fact, it is a boldface demonstration of cowardice and a retreat from the challenges before us.
 
Fortunately, Westfield has a mayor who understands the importance of leadership and moving the city forward. In November, we need to back him up with more true leaders on the City Council and remove the impediments to progress. Save Westfield Schools will do what it can to make sure that happens. We welcome all our supporters who want to start rolling up their sleeves to help get the job done.
 

MassLive Forum discussion

Below are two posts from the MassLive forum. The first, from David Flaherty (DF), was a reply to a link on the forum to the essay above. The second post, from Steve Dondley (SWS), was removed from the forum.

DF: "Show me the money"

Let's see how you balance the budget. Show me the money. How do you think we are going to pay for everything? Start with the easy things. Ignore the $275,000,000+ unfunded OPEB for now. The math just doesn't work. Grab the spreadsheet, tweek it with your numbers, and show us how you'd make it work.

This budget is underfunded. Future budgets are underfunded. Property taxes are maxed out for the foreseeable future. Other revenue sources are maxed out using any reasonable expectation of likelihood. Expenses are underestimated. Prop 2 1/2 is very limiting.
 
Do you really think 2% per year growth in health insurance costs is reasonable? If so, why don't you promote the concept with the unions and get them to agree that the city's maximum exposure will only be 2% increases and they agree to cover the rest?
 
Do you think the Police Department can go 5 years without new vehicles?
 
Do you think the Pension assumptions are realistic? 8% return on investment year-over-year for 30 years? Do you think city can increase contributions by 4% per year given the constraints of Prop 2 1/2?
 
You spent time years ago predicting salary numbers. How'd that work out? Your financial predictions are way off. Labor costs are still climbing faster than revenue. In schools, show us how you are going to pay for severance (tens of thousands for many employees) and health care (80% charged back to city for retirees) as the way of senior teachers start retiring. Do you plan on laying off people with lower seniority in order to cover the retirement obligations of the retiring? How's that going to work for the kids!
 
Sorry if you don't like reality and would rather live in fantasy land where we can spend and spend and spend without limits.

Response to DF from SWS: You didn't read my essay, did you?

When FDR made is inaugural speech in 1932 at the height of the depression, he didn't say "show me the money." He said:
 
"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
 
Then you know what FDR did? He went on to spend money and cut the unemployment rate in half in just a couple of years. He didn't let fear of economic collapse stop him or the American people.
 
That's what leaders do. They lead. They inspire. They encourage citizens to sacrifice and take on challenges head on.
 
But you can't understand that though. You are a bean counter, not a leader. 
 
Even worse, though, you are a bean counter who cannot be reasoned with as the mayor demonstrated last night. If you think I'm going to draw in to some silly numbers game here on the MassLive forum, sorry, but I'm not taking the bait.
 
Listen, I respect what you are trying to do and you as a person. I think you are sincere in what you believe, at least to some degree, and I know you put a lot of effort into your responsibilities. But you are sadly misguided. You are hurting Westfield, not helping it. You undermine relationships with others. You do not have what it takes to lead people through difficult times. That's not a knock against you. We all have our special talents. I encourage you to put your efforts to endeavors you are better suited for. Being a City Councilor requires a lot more than compounding interest. Consider a field in banking if that's what you love to do.
 
And by the way, why do you keep removing post here on ML? It's pretty disgraceful and yet another display of your cowardice, in my opinion.

 

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