Sense: John DiMascio
Some People Are More Equal Than Others?
months ago I opened my municipal tax bill. Enclosed was an unusual
questionnaire. Normally, I’d consider surveys a waste of time and
a perfectly good tree. But, since my tax dollars were being used to distribute
it, the least I should do was check it out. Lo and behold the sheet was
laden with “leading” questions designed to raise interest
and support for the tax increase now being shilled as the Community Preservation
A few weeks later, I was inadvertently included in an email distribution.
The sender was looking for volunteers to sift through these same questionnaires.
I also noticed most of the other email recipients were associated with
the Watertown Citizens for Environmental Safety or other like-thinking
special interest groups. Since this information was solicited at taxpayer
expense, I found it very disturbing. Apparently this data was collected
for and being used by de-facto lobbyists to build their base of support.
But at the time, I let it go. I told myself, there are only so many battles
one can fight at once .
another group who receives taxpayer money, Watertown Community Housing,
sent out CPA campaign and fundraising material. Of course, they have
every right to lobby their causes. However, in the past, the Town Council
has appropriated funds so Watertown Community Housing could help the
less fortunate. In light of their behavior, the Council and the taxpayers
should now know better. If Watertown Community Housing has money to
waste promoting tax increases, they don’t
need the town’s money to help those in need.
On a far more serious note. The Watertown Citizens for Common Sense
Government has received more than one report that public resources are
being directly used to promote the CPA.
are they trying to raise our taxes, they are indirectly and possibly
directly, using our money to fund their campaign. Forget the possible
legal questions for the moment. This is like the guy who proposed marriage
to his girlfriend after stealing her money to buy the engagement ring.
Worst still, like leeches sponsoring a blood drive and charging the
donors for the needle. For Pete’s
sake, even charities provide a stamped self-addressed envelope.
It is quite clear, these particular CPA proponents suffer from a severe
case of EDD; Ethical Deficit Disorder.
talk about the most recent outrage; The Faire on the Square. Those
who rent tables are well informed of the rules. No politics allowed.
13 th, Michael Donham, speaking for the committee in charge, reminded
everyone; political advertising, verbal campaigning, and campaign literature
were not welcome. At the time, Councilor Portz raised a reasonable
point. He said: "Politics are part of what the community is all
about." I happen to agree with Councilor Portz. Nevertheless, the
rules -- are still the rules!
Let there be no misunderstanding, we are not talking about free speech
here. There is no specious First Amendment argument to be made. We are
talking about violating the rules set by the committee in charge of an
event. No one forces anyone to participate. When you rent a table, you
agree to follow the rules; whether you agree with them or not.
Imagine my dismay when I walked by the WCES booth and saw their volunteers
handing out literature and soliciting signatures for the CPA.
shocked; you might ask. It’s pretty simple. The WCES claims
to be “Watertown’s Voice for Social Justice”. My concept
of social justice includes equal rules for equal people. Apparently their
concept is somewhat different. Rules don’t apply to them. I guess
some people are more equal than others.
Of course, it is also fair to ask whether or not Councilor Falkoff was
involved. After all, she was a longtime president of the WCES and is
still a very active member. To her credit, she was neither manning the
WCES station nor openly campaigning. In fact, when I asked how things
were going at the WCES booth, she said she was not there on behalf of
any group or cause. She was simply there as Susan.
Fair enough Susan; but please answer a simple question. Do you denounce
the WCES for refusing to play by the rules? We would not want the voters
to think you suffer from the same Ethical Deficit Disorder.
Democracy only works if all the people play by the same rules. I hope
next year the rules for the Faire are different. All the candidates should
be invited to have booths. All sides of ballot initiatives should be
encouraged to make their case to Watertown. What better place than the
Faire on Square?
In the mean time consider this, over that infamous cup of coffee Tolman
wants you to give up to fund the CPA slush fund: The people asking us to
vote for a tax increase could not be trusted to respect a simple rule.
Can they be trusted with our money or our vote?
Watertown Citizens for Common Sense Government