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Newton rejects override

Posted by David Dahl, Regional Editor May 20, 2008 09:14 PM

Newton voters Tuesday firmly rejected a proposed $12-million override, turning back a well funded campaign that urged the city to raise taxes to pay for education and city services.

The unofficial results posted on the city of Newton website indicated the override was rejected by a 55-45 margin.

Though the tax increase was to fund city and school services, two other matters overshadowed the question: public anger over the proposed $197.5-million Newton North High School and the unpopularity of Newton Mayor David Cohen. The mayor announced earlier this month that he would not run for reelection after briefly accepting, then rejecting, a $27,500 raise for himself.

At least 15 towns and cities voted on overrides this year, and about half have rejected and half have approved, according to an informal tally. Those approving tax increases include Canton, Brookline, Natick and Randolph.

The override would have boosted property taxes by $433 on the average Newton home. Before the vote, city officials warned that the school system would eliminate 79 positions, reduce other staff and cut back on music, drama and athletic offerings.

79 comments so far...
  1. As a Newton resident, this is very disappointing. To think that your fellow citizens are so short-sighted as to jeopardize the school system - it's very sad.

    Posted by steve krauss May 20, 08 09:38 PM
  1. Finally the established townies of Newton came out today and told the moonbats that enough is enough!

    Posted by Murray May 20, 08 09:43 PM
  1. As a Newton resident, this is very disappointing. To think that your fellow citizens are so short-sighted as to jeopardize the school system - it's very sad.

    Posted by steve krauss May 20, 08 09:45 PM
  1. In general municipalities are rather clueless, they think the tax payers have infinite resources. At a time when people have less and less money, due to inflation, cities like Newton what to take what little there is left

    Is it any surprise that many cities/towns that have overrides this year have failed.

    For Newton its even more galling because they're paying for a 200 million boondoggle and the mayer had the nerve to slip in a nice little pay raise for himself (which he then took out once he got caught)

    Posted by Mike May 20, 08 09:49 PM
  1. Thank god. Teachers are the most overpaid, underworked workers in the country. Enough is enough with new taxes. Cut taxes!

    Posted by tim May 20, 08 09:51 PM
  1. As a Newton resident, I don't find this surprising.

    The Mayor's missteps in terms of funding and the containment of costs related to Newton North led to substantial dissatisfaction among its citizens. Sadly, due to poor planning by the mayor and other officials, all Newton residents must suffer with fewer services. It was either that, or substantially higher taxes.

    No one could have "won" this vote - both options were losers. I squarely put the blame on the Mayor for putting the people of Newton into this situation.

    Posted by Rick Mytomic May 20, 08 09:51 PM
  1. It's about time the taxpayers stood up to say "we won't allow wasteful spending anymore."

    Good job, fellow Newtonites.

    Needed change is coming to running City Hall, finally.

    Posted by Robert Krauss May 20, 08 09:53 PM
  1. Short-sighted? Did Newton voters agree to the $197.5 million dollars for the high school? Ridiculous. As a homeowner I agree that quality education benefits all, even selfishly increases property values. However, does the high school need to be THAT expensive?

    Posted by JMBoston May 20, 08 09:54 PM
  1. Newton(politicians) were not happy to have the largest Override In State history.2002

    Newton (politicians) wanted the largest and the second largest Override in State history.2008

    Newton said NO.I applaud you!

    Posted by Jel May 20, 08 10:01 PM
  1. Many fellow residents who voted to withhold their 363$ per year (half a cup of coffee per household per day) has done a great disservice to themselves, never mind the community and schools. What my fellow residents think people pay 829K for an essentially a rundown dwelling (the true description of an average Newton house)? Neither for the vibrant city life nor for the fond memories of owners! You can get those in Watertown for half the price. People pay those absurd prices for good schools and city services, both of which will be axed now that override has failed. Our elderly who counted on their home equity for retirements just lost tens of thousand dollars of that. Enjoy your half a cup of coffee!

    Posted by Huseyin Aktas May 20, 08 10:04 PM
  1. I agree with Rick and Mike. If you want to buy a fancy house you really cannot afford with your current expenses, the first thing you do is to reduce your spending. You can only knock on your parents' door so much.
    Some people equate more spending with better education. There are many school districts in MA and in other states that have a higher national ranking with a lot less spending per child (http://thegardencity.net/?q=node/679). If this override failure "jeopardizes" our school system, maybe we have the wrong superintendent.

    Posted by Andy May 20, 08 10:13 PM
  1. Thank you Newton voters for cutting my job. I wish your kids the best of luck.

    Posted by TC May 20, 08 10:15 PM
  1. I don't live in Newton ,but whenever an override fails I jump for joy .

    Now get ready for the ridiculous articles in the local paper that will compare this to the Earthquake in China.

    Posted by John Gault May 20, 08 10:25 PM
  1. Don't worry...

    After the politicians intentionally cut more jobs than they have to in order to make the voters squirm, the nice Newton voters will again line up to vote for the next override.

    All is good in Cohenville.

    Posted by HB May 20, 08 10:25 PM
  1. It's about time that Newton voters said no to an excellent educational system and to funding necessary government services.

    Posted by harry May 20, 08 10:31 PM
  1. The scare tactics are laughable. Absolutely laughable. You people are living in a fantasy world.

    The City of Newton has demonstrated its monumental fiscal irresponsibility with the NNHS fiasco. Plenty of very nice cities throughout the region have built first class high schools for half of what we're paying, if not less. The price of this caviar facility will have no correlation to the quality of the eduction of those who use it. I graduated from the old NNHS and I turned out just fine.

    The defeat of this override was absolutely necessary to send a message to our totally out-of-touch city government that enough is enough. And for the record, we, and our children, are going to be just fine. I for one value living in a community that doesn't suffocate its less affluent residents, and that is far more important to me than pumping another $12 million in gravy into already excessively overfed city budget.

    Posted by SJB May 20, 08 10:32 PM
  1. TC - thank the Mayor. Had he not lied for years about Newton North and kept those cost hidden; shielded himself with a pitiful spokesperson, Jeremy; and not put the pay raise on the table weeks before this vote - you and I know Newton voters would have passed this - it's just not that much $ per household. However, the Mayor's continued mis-steps are completely to blame. He and Jeremy need to go NOW. Tim, you are wrong, we have good teachers that make decent pay - what's wrong with that? This was a no win situation - you vote yes, your vindicate a useless mayor; you vote no, you lose services. Both are a complete shame.

    Posted by JM May 20, 08 10:36 PM
  1. It's sad to see that someone would shamelessly use this forum to target teachers. Don't direct your frustration at those who have worked diligently to educate Newton's young citizens in the hope that they will NOT grow up to be ignorant and ill-informed.

    Posted by Victoria May 20, 08 10:38 PM
  1. Ok Angry Voters...what now? Will you volunteer to fill the teaching positions in our schools when the Mayor shows he was not bluffing? Will you police the streets? Will you make up the difference if, for the first time our property values drop? I am angry too. angry at the Mayor. Angry at the Superintendent. and now much much angrier at my shortsighted irrational and foolhardy friends and neighbors who may have successfully taken away a little of what makes Newton a great city in which to live. I hope for the best for our city and our children.

    Posted by SB May 20, 08 10:49 PM
  1. Good on you fellow Newton residents. For you whiners, suck it up.

    Posted by SD May 20, 08 10:52 PM
  1. Well, with the economy struggling, citizens everywhere have to tighten their belts. This goes for local municipalities as well. So rather than allow the city to dip further into already tight personal budgets, Newton finally said, "Enough is enough. Time to spend more efficiently like the rest of us."

    Posted by Brian May 20, 08 11:02 PM
  1. The rhetoric around this vote rivaled the vacuous debate at our national level. It's a shame. It would have been nice if the opponents of the override would have pointed out specific areas (outside of NNHS, yeah we know about that one already folks) in which the City's financial management is currently completely out of control, is within the City's control, and what they would do to fix it so we wouldn't need the override. If you look at property taxes around the country, considering the high cost of living here in the Boston area, we do get pretty good value for our tax dollar. Unfortunately, rather than a rational debate, this turned into a referendum on the Mayor and the High School. Hopefully, with the help of the opponents of this measure, our elected officials will be able to root out all of this wasteful spending that apparently is going on in Newton so that the important services provided to residents will be minimally impacted.

    Posted by David May 20, 08 11:17 PM
  1. To all who wanted this to happen - feel free to send in to City Hall the amount you would have been overcharged had this override gone through. I am sure they will find a way to mis-spend it.

    The history of blind mismanagement of this administration has finely come home to roost. You can't spend money you don't have and then come whining to the citizens with sad faces begging for more. As the red signs say, Enough is Enough!

    Posted by Chris May 20, 08 11:17 PM
  1. Newton won a huge victory tonight -- no matter which side of the vote you were on -- because for once, Newton turned out and voted in record numbers for a local question. If you were a YES person, you need to ask yourself why NO won -- what did you not understand? and if you are a NO person, you have to be ready to stop being against things, and be ready to articulate what you are FOR -- what you want and why.
    No jobs need be cut. It's unlikely new jobs can be created. But if you think you can't work in an environment where the residents want a more active role, you might be happier elsewhere. The turnout indicates that the residents plan to take a much bigger role in everything from now on, from the high school to city pensions. The future of activism in Newton will belong to those who can drop the hysterics and build consensus.

    Posted by Katy May 20, 08 11:24 PM
  1. TC- I went to vote at 12:30 pm today but was unable to park as the entire elementary school was getting out (as they do EVERY Tuesday at 12:30). I greatly admire the work teachers do but Newton's teachers' salaries are beyond bloated.
    Where else do phys ed teachers earn >$100K and kindergarten teachers >$80K with pensions to boot? Oh, and summers off, a work day that ends by 3pm, snow days, 80% of health insurance paid by the city. Many of you are out of touch with the struggles most of us face in the "real world."
    The comptrollers 2007 earnings report can substantiate this. Pages 34-109 are mostly overpaid folks in the school dept (see link). My kids will be fine, thank you.
    http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/comptrol/fy08_update/2007%20EMPLOYEE%20EARNINGS.pdf

    Posted by EMT May 20, 08 11:26 PM
  1. Finally, those yuppies will learn that they can't keep spending other people's money without being responsible. They should all leave town anyway, and leave it to people who really love Newton. They made us change our town nickname and now they're trying to run all the REAL people who love Newton out of town by driving up prices of houses and running up taxes. They think that we will leave because we can't afford their $8 coffees and such, and taxes, but in fact we will tell THEM to leave, and they will leave. Go back to Yuppietown, you yuppies. We want a regular town again, not a town with a bunch of fancy people who don't even love the Redmen. REDMEN 4 LIFE!

    Posted by Yuppies go home May 20, 08 11:31 PM
  1. This post is in response to the post by TC. The only people you have to blame for job cuts are your elected officials. They have done everyone in this community a disservice by letting costs spiral out of control by creating unnecessary positions. The Fire Department has already figured out what's been up at City Hall. Now maybe the teacher's union will come to its senses.

    Also, stop with the doom and gloom and quit holding our kids hostage in this debate. Newton children will be fine because Newton parents are involved in their lives and educations. They aren't going to suffer because we add a couple more kids to each classroom. Great job getting this one right!!!

    Posted by FB May 20, 08 11:32 PM
  1. Has anyone asked the Newton Mayor why our school has to cost so much? Perhaps instead of cutting $7 million one week from the expected cost to only add $14 million to 'cap' costs (yeah, right!) a week later... maybe we should invest a couple of million to engage several other architectural firms to deliver a school building plan in the $100 million or less range. Other cities have built them for this price.. why not Newton?

    Has Mr. Cohen explained to anyone why Newton North HAS to be the most expensive high school in the United States (or pretty darn close)?

    We don't have to lose these teachers, police, libraries and other services.. we just need to lose the attitude and expectation that we need to have the country's gold standard school facility - when we can't even afford to pay the teachers who will make it worth the price.

    My kids will be starting at Cabot Elementary in a few years... have you seen that school lately? there is a lot more infrastructure that could be fixed beyond one high school facility. Wake up Newton!

    Oh... and if you really think NNHS will end up costing under $200 mil, you are dreaming. Ask the folks at the big dig.

    Posted by Mike in Newtonville May 20, 08 11:35 PM
  1. A victory, but bittersweet for some of us. My property taxes increased 30% from 2007 to 2008, thanks to a 12% increase in the assessed value of my home (so much for falling property values), and a 4% increase in the residential tax rate (so much for "prop 2 1/2"). So, many of us will be paying significantly higher taxes this year, but at least Newton voters got the message across. I applaud that.

    As for "TC" - sorry to hear about your job loss. I wasn't aware that they announced specific cutbacks on the same day as the referendum. I hope my kids can manage without you, whoever you are.

    Posted by JS May 20, 08 11:36 PM
  1. Actually, the per child spending is misleading. The thing that drives up costs isn't teacher salaries per se (as the husband of a teacher in Newton I can attest to that!) but rather the specialists that service the needs of children with special needs. Other school systems can spend less per child, because essentially, they are ignoring the needs of children who need the most help (and these folks generally shoulder the cost themselves via private means, if possible, or are forced to move to a municipality that does regard the education of ALL its children as a responsibility and a priority). Which of course, also drives up rankings since the kids who struggle are bumped out of the picture. I think it's unfortunate that the high school fiasco (which it really is) colored the outcome of this referendum. Obviously a lot of communities are struggling with a disparity in expected income, diminshed taxes and rising costs. The high school had nothing to do with this (as evidenced by the number of towns that did NOT have a boondoggle but still needed an override). In my opinion, it's a generational thing, the folks who no longer have school-age kids no longer feel the need to support the school system. It's sad. I think it's the first sign that a cohesive community is dying.

    Posted by SBD May 20, 08 11:38 PM
  1. I would have hoped for more long-term thinking from people in Newton. I don't live in Newton yet, but I hope to eventually, when my family can afford it. Why would I bother saving for a very expensive tradeup? Why do you think you're sitting on measly 2000 square foot homes that cost nearly a million bucks? Cachet. Which translates as SCHOOLS, SCHOOLS, SCHOOLS. They're the only thing that keeps your property values rising, while so many other towns are falling. You can bet they won't rise as fast when you start cutting enrichment programs in your school system and the word gets around. If you voted for the winning side, you didn't save 400 bucks, you just gave it to whoever eventually buys your house.

    Posted by JDW May 20, 08 11:42 PM
  1. I'm quite upset that we high school students are being penalized for this. We were under the impression that education was high on the list of priorities. After this vote, it is apparent that this is not the case. Many people have been saying that this override should not make a difference in our school system. This is not true. Because this override has failed, many of our teachers are being cut, class sizes will be a lot larger (which may not seem like a lot to you, but really is), many extra curricular activities are being cut, and the music department (which has already had many problems this year) will be hurt even more.
    The reason properties are worth so much in this town is partially because of the school system. You can't expect that to stay the same if you're unwilling to fund the school. We are losing not only many programs that are important to us, but also many teachers who are important to us.
    I'm sorry if people want to be able to keep that money instead of spending it on taxes.
    Your children, the future of this country, should not be penalized because of it.

    Posted by High School Student May 20, 08 11:44 PM
  1. Listening to the affluent elitist fear-mongering of the pro-tax lobby in Newton is enough to turn a lifelong liberal into a Republican. The sky ain't gonna fall, people, and you sound ridiculous when you predict that it will.

    And for the record, this vote WAS a referendum on NNHS and Cohen, and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

    Posted by SJB May 20, 08 11:46 PM
  1. Sudbury rejects an override and now Newton? I'm just amazed that some Massachusetts residents are finally getting some (guts). Tax increases are not automatic and a city or town should be subjected to cutbacks like many families have to do when things get tough.

    We were paying $8,000/yr in RE taxes in Mass. In AZ, our taxes will be about 1/3 and the city still delivers quality services and a good education.

    I'd love to see a Mass. city or town try to deliver services like most parts of the country have to do with reasonable and fair taxes. Where does all the money go??


    Posted by EddieInAZ May 20, 08 11:59 PM
  1. TC -- one of my favorite teachers is getting fired because of the override not passing. This is a teacher that stayed hours after school whenever I needed help, and the reason why I am graduating this year. It just makes me laugh when I hear people saying things like "Teachers are the most overpaid, underworked workers in the country". Says a lot about the kind of city we live in, I guess. TC, thank you and best of luck to you.

    Posted by HP May 21, 08 12:04 AM
  1. let's inverse how much we pay to Federal, State, and Local government. Then we can have great schools, nice smooth roads, and no phantom wars.

    Posted by the truth May 21, 08 12:08 AM
  1. I'd say that the comptroller's earnings report shows that fire fighters and teachers are not overpaid... but the cops are lapping up overtime and details to the tune of 100-150k each.

    http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/comptrol/fy08_update/2007%20EMPLOYEE%20EARNINGS.pdf

    Posted by concerned_cit May 21, 08 12:24 AM
  1. Feeding additional funds into a school system that has a reputation based on its successes from more than a decade ago and continues to add additional staff to its already bloated administration for the purpose of studying how great it is is not a formula for sustained success (Newton schools continue to drop in national rankings AND there is no longer an impressive list of colleges that the majority of Newton High graduates attend). The focus has not been on the core values of education, rather on how we can march around schools rallying against the evil THEM, sing Cumbahyah, and pretend to love each other. It is time for fiscal responsibility both in the Mayor's Office and in the Superintendent's Chair. Maybe Young can give up 1/2 of his perks to save a music program or 2 or 3 teacher positions. Think of the Children!!!

    Posted by DJ & RM May 21, 08 12:30 AM
  1. As the parent of a special needs child in Newton I voted yes, that said I certainly cannot fault anyone who voted no. The Newton North mess is unacceptable. All the other schools will suffer for its opulance. The economy is faultering and asking for more money when every week we watch the price of gas climb is not likely to end well. Under the best of circumstances overrides are tough, these circumstances are not even close. Although I am saddened that the override did not pass I am not suprised. There are children, many of them, who will pay the price for the Newton North mess and the other mismanagment. The town and the school system need to start to think outside the box for other more creative solutions. There is more than one way to solve a problem.

    Posted by MJ May 21, 08 12:30 AM
  1. I donated the mailer to the hard working anti-overide people. Best investment I and my company ever made. Suck it up you overspending liberals the populace has spoken............... LONG LIVE DEMOCRACY !!!!!

    Posted by Trent Mutchler May 21, 08 12:39 AM
  1. To all of you that are upset that the overide did not pass. Please send the extra money you have to city hall. If you have extra money why don't you start some special programs to enrich all the students in Newton. Not everyone has the extra money to spend. There are many people that have lived in Newton for years and would like to be able to stay in Newton but they will be forced out by the high costs. SO I say again, if you have so much extra money, find a way to spend it making things better for others.......How many of you are willing to give your money????

    Posted by mary white May 21, 08 01:40 AM
  1. The issue was one of trust. Trust is so hard to gain and so easy to lose. Mayor Cohen and his administration took what ever trust there was and shot it to hell and then some. We have the legacy of the high school soap opera and the"comic"opera about the fire stations. Mayor Cohen's priorities did not even include addressing the structual debt which mandated the override issue; for him it was business as usal and if the item costs more, just raise the taxes. And if the schools, firedepartment, libraries and police were not on his agenda, so what! Ronald Regan stated that we are a people with a government and the people of Newton elected a government in whom they thought would be able to lead this city. This vote was was to tell them the reaction to their policies and that they now have a complete lack of trust in whatever this current administration is doing

    Posted by lloyd a cohen May 21, 08 02:05 AM
  1. For those who worrry about Newton's Schools, you should read the U.S. News and World Report about the school ranks, when you come to newton, I hope you are sitting down. Jeff Young has done quite a job in turn the the schools system backwards. the mopnies from teh override would not have saved the schools--if it would been allocated--there is much more needed.

    Posted by lloyd a cohen May 21, 08 02:28 AM
  1. Thank God that this override did not pass. It will force the leaders of newton to make the financial decisions they should have made a long time ago. I'm tired though that everytime they have to make cuts they try to cut the schools first or cuts towrds the elderly. Why? because these are the 2 big issues that we care about and effect us the most. belive me if the cuts were made in the "hardworking" DPW the residents of Newton would not notice. There are many more departments where cuts can be mad of either personnel or at the very least their outrageous benefits, think police and fire who retire at 80% with medical benefits. The workers of the city of Newton have to realize that the real world for the majoirty of Newton residents don't include these benefits. We will support the leaders if they make intelligent cuts. Not try to hold us hostage by always going after teachers of the elderly. We can afford cuts in the school department but not teachers. ie janitors and such.

    Posted by John B. May 21, 08 02:58 AM
  1. To Huseyin Aktas

    You and your fellow moonbats can stop using that "cup of coffee", excuse me, cup of "Starbucks Coffee" because no one with half a brain is buying that argument anymore....enough is enough.

    You and the rest of the "Beautiful People" just go back to driving your SUVs with your Obama bumper stickers and fade away...

    Posted by Murray May 21, 08 05:03 AM
  1. I am sensitive to the topic of inclusion and the need to support the special needs constituents, but if Newton spends way more than its neighbors on special needs and other services, it can expect to attract more than the statistical average of those constituents that need services. This feedback loop will over time cause an enormous fiscal strain.
    I disagree with the argument that Newton property value goes/holds up because of our spending on services. I am no real estate expert but I have a suspicion that its location and the vibrant community has a lot more to do with it than services.
    The school administration will learn to live with less.
    At the end of the day its the motivated kids and parents of Newton that make our schools what they are - not fancy buildings and large number of teachers. I'd rather have one passionate teacher that can inspire than 5 'mail it in' ones. Numbers do not mean a thing when it comes to education and Newton is a proof for that.

    Posted by Andy May 21, 08 06:41 AM
  1. This wasn't a referendum on whether you support the schools. And I'm not angry but I'm FOR fiscal responsibility.

    Posted by ron May 21, 08 06:42 AM
  1. SJB, the referendum on the mayor, aka the mayoral election, is in 2009.

    Posted by David May 21, 08 07:36 AM
  1. Wow, it took 10 whole comments before the old "cup of coffee" metric showed up.

    Posted by Dave May 21, 08 10:02 AM
  1. As a Newton resident and mother who does love my town and who cares about the long term health of the town's finances, and who voted "yes", I was actually shocked by the outcome. The "No" campaign had no presence and it appeared that the "yes" voters outnumbered the nos in droves and the extra $400 in taxes, while annoying, appeared to be needed to fund some basic services. In reading these comments, though, I have learned that my fellow residents are closed minded nuts: "Finally, those yuppies will learn that they can't keep spending other people's money without being responsible. They should all leave town anyway, and leave it to people who really love Newton." Do you think the "yuppies" had anything to do with the Newton North fiasco? And statements like: "You and the rest of the 'Beautiful People' just go back to driving your SUVs with your Obama bumper stickers and fade away" are scary - it appears that Newton has become divided by income brackets and jealousy but this is not about SUV's and coffee - it is about trying to fix the mess that the government caused. If you want to right the wrong, then become more active in the government and demand responsibility and a more responsible budget, but stop attacking your fellow residents. Residents, by the way, who probably pay a lot more taxes than you and who have a lot more to complain about. Newton is an affluent community because of its proximity to Boston and the good jobs. If you don't like what it has become, sell your house, pocket your home equity, and move west. We "yuppies" with the good jobs are here to stay and here to do whatever it takes to maintain the quality of life here.

    Posted by LX May 21, 08 10:05 AM
  1. No services will be cut and the quality of the education is not going to suffer one bit. Is one extra kid per class that big a deal? This was a short sighted fix and would require more and more. the people have spoken. I just bought in Newton and I could easily afford the $400/yr but that is not the point. Accountability is the point. If they come back next year with a better plan maybe I will vote for it. You will never get the money back but they can always ask again.

    Posted by NB May 21, 08 11:37 AM
  1. LX is the real nut!

    She doesn't understand that we are all not wealthy like her.

    She doesn't care that the working class can't afford the $433 a year for life.

    She doesn't care that we passed an Override in 2002 that has taken $2500.00 out of my pockets since and will continue taking.

    LX doesn't care about the working class.She is an Elitist.

    Posted by LXH May 21, 08 11:56 AM
  1. I would have voted for it if a hockey rink was part of the deal..this is the problem in Newton..priorities are all mixed up

    Posted by swettsox May 21, 08 12:54 PM
  1. The only way to fight govt maddness is to stop feeding the monster.

    Congrats to Newton in taking this first step.

    Belmont has a couple of overrides coming in '08 and I expect a similar result.

    Govts need to learn to budget efficiently and rise out of the fiscal mess THEY have created.

    Posted by 5x3 May 21, 08 02:09 PM
  1. to Huseyin Aktas,
    I am offended by your statement that you can buy a run down shack in Watertown for half the price ..that may be true but think about what you are saying - Newton is way over priced! Come on here, a high school for 200 million - how stupid is that?? A crocked Mayor that tried to sneak in a pay raise after over spending on the high school by 50%? I think you should be looking at the Smart people that override it - enjoy that cup of coffee... I think we have another "big dig" going on in Newton - check out the contacts and costs for that high school then enjoy your cup of coffee!

    Posted by monsta May 21, 08 02:13 PM
  1. To LX,

    Newton was fine and dandy long before you and the rest of your "social planning liberal do gooder" crowd showed up. You don't like it, move to Brookline or Wellesley, they've never met a tax that they didn't like!

    Posted by Nobama May 21, 08 02:16 PM
  1. Towns use the "We need this or the schools will collapse!" argument every time they need more revenue.. they've been doing it in my memory since I was 6 and had teachers telling me to go home and get my parents to vote.

    Unfortunately, now we have a tens-and-hundreds of millions of dollars in liability for public sector healthcare and pension obligations, from "underpaid" teachers that have retiree benefits us private sector workers only dream about. Towns such as Vallejo in California are already declaring bankruptcy.. cities and towns need to run a balanced set of books, and sometimes that means saying NO.

    Posted by Grant May 21, 08 02:20 PM
  1. to the students: giving more money to the town/gov't just means they will spend more on nonsense (usually benefiting only themselves); it doesn't mean you will be educated any better. but students need to live a bit before they really learn that. you will do fine without the override; the teachers will preach to you that the sky is falling, but it won't.

    unfortunately they'll also threaten sports programs and maybe even remove some, rather than trying to becoming more efficient. it's sad.

    in any case, i applaud the voters of Newton.

    Posted by jjj May 21, 08 02:30 PM
  1. LX..are you kidding me?? " Newton is an affluent community because of it's proximity to Boston and the good job" - this is such a pathetic statement..
    It is way overpriced and quite frankly it is starting to look run down.
    Affluence - bet you have no clue what that means! You obviously are very sheltered if you think Newton is high class and affluent - it is nothing close. You wish you could afford to live in affluence - make sure you take your kids to gymboree and pick up your starbucks before getting your nails done..
    You are the stupid one for paying more taxes and to think becuase you do that gives you the right to complain more - stupidity at it's best, glad you are not teaching my kids!

    Posted by marla May 21, 08 02:31 PM
  1. I live in Newton and couldn't be happier about the outcome. I don't doubt that there is a deficit but local government needs to do a MUCH better job managing its finances to close the gap. The easy thing to do is go to the well (taxpayers) to fix their mistakes. Let's say the override did pass...this time it's $12M...cohen originally wanted $24M. does anybody believe that, in 1-2 years, we wouldn't be faced with ANOTHER override? The more you give them, the more they spend and mismanage. Aren't we all making adjustments to deal with the higher cost of living? gas, healthcare, food, etc. why can't Newton deal with it?
    oh, and thanks to the person who sent the link to the budget....part of the reason that Massachusetts is such a crazy tax state is because we need to keep paying all those cops an extra 100 grand a year to stand on corners and direct traffic. we are the ONLY state in the COUNTRY that mandates police details...why?? we are one of the only states to pay such generous pensions to state workers, unions, etc. it's clear that WE CAN'T AFFORD IT ANYMORE! stop the insanity. newton did the right thing. GO NEWTON!

    Posted by lazygirl May 21, 08 02:32 PM
  1. Anyone who voted for the override can still pay more if they so choose...

    Posted by aj May 21, 08 02:34 PM
  1. It's not fair to make general comments like "the people of Newton don't care about their schools or their kids!".

    With the financial mismanagement and dishonesty that has plagued the NNHS project, I would have been shocked if the override did pass, even in a town like Newton that typically is willing to pay extra tax $$ to fund schools & related services.

    Some serious change is needed at City Hall - voters have understandably lost faith in "management".

    Posted by scott May 21, 08 02:41 PM
  1. Hah! Enjoy a rise in the crime rate in 5 years when these kids are in their teens and can't do basic math.

    (Nothing I like better than one of the richest Cities screwing up this royally)

    Posted by ShipOfFools May 21, 08 02:43 PM
  1. As a 5th generation Newton resident, I was very surprised by the outcome of the vote, but it was a pleasant surprise. I guess what turned my "yes" vote into a "no" was the Mayor's and aldermen's threatening and blackmailing comments to the residents of Newton on services. It was very demeaning and actually made me very distrustful of Newton after all these years. Mayor Cohen used the "scare tactics" that politicians have been using for years (children and elderly). I have paid my dues in Newton many times over and really have not used as many of the services as some folks who don't even pay property taxes do. As far as the schools and the children, Newton residents will do fine...they always have because Newton has always had an abundance of caring and intelligent parents who pass this on to the next generation. Keep the faith on that, and also since the threatening was to get you to vote "yes", in the end that is what some of these issues will be, threats...idle threats once again by the mayor.

    Posted by Sue May 21, 08 03:10 PM
  1. Apparently Newton's school system was just fine before the new $197 million high school was "needed". The old high school educated people well enough to realize that overrides are ridiculous if spending isn't brought under control first.

    This will be the trend of the future...people have finally had enough of government wasteful spending on all levels....Federal, State and Town/City. Many cheers to you Newton!!!

    Posted by Ak May 21, 08 03:11 PM
  1. It is interesting to see so many people who think they are paid for their work fairly, but teachers are over paid. Their home, now worth $100k more than they paid for it, is valued fairly, but the the new school costs too much. The price of fuel, steel, concrete and copper wiring are all going through the roof, but if the price of the school goes up it is due to mismanagement.

    NNHS will not be the most expensive shool in the state for long.

    Posted by Joe May 21, 08 03:19 PM
  1. GOOD. Keep the money in your pockets. Maybe the town of Newton should have asked more questions when that shiny new high school was built. Ridiculous waste of taxpayer money. QUESTION AUTHORITY!

    Posted by Shawn May 21, 08 03:19 PM
  1. I am thrilled the NO vote won. It's about time the citizens of Newton stopped caving in to the administration's fear-mongering whenever more money is desired for more programs and administrators. They always trot out the "we're going to fire teachers & cops & firemen & close the libraries" argument. That's not necessary. How about the school program administrators & monitors and studiers? Would larger classes really be so bad? Why does the mayor need a spokesman? Why is Jeff Young one of the highest paid administrators in the state? Why can't city employees pay a reasonable percentage of their own healthcare as the private sector does? No one likes to reduce benefits, but perhaps those need a hard look as well. The new NNHS. That argument stands alone.

    Here's another idea: Not that I have a beef with veterans, but do we really need a "weekend before Memorial Day parade"? The event is ridiculous!! (no offense vets, this is a money thing) If "everybody leaves the city for Memorial Day" - why do we need a parade on May 18th??

    Why don't we also take a hard look at the festivals & celebrations & other city-sponsored events & try to pare those back? Why not increase city fees so that those who use city services pay for their provision? Let's reduce the Newton Historical Preservation projects & provisions. Let LaSalle college expand & tax them for the privelage.

    There are a lot of ways to make TARGETED revenue enhancements with some creativity.

    Posted by Newtonville Resident May 21, 08 03:35 PM
  1. Sadly but predictably, I see the familiar polarization and demonization of viewpoints on this issue.
    Surely, all those in favor of the override must be rich, Chardonnay-swilling, NPR-loving individuals with hyphenated last names who haven't been in Newton more than a few years and couldn't care less about the generations who have lived there before them.
    And, surely, all those voting down the override must be unenlightened, unwashed "townies" who are so riled up about what they view as encroachment on their homeland that they refuse to look past their anger.

    It's just not that simple, folks, and both "sides" do a disservice to themselves and Newton as a whole by adopting this Us vs. Them attitude.
    I know of a number of people, recently arrived as well as long-time residents, who agonized over this decision. Some have supported overrides in the past but this time just could not accept that it was the best solution; they couldn't vote "Yes," but neither could they bring themselves to vote against it, so instead they abstained.
    The mayor, and the current government, certainly deserve criticism for the handling of the city's fiscal affairs, as well as the Newton North project. But most every municipality -- hell, most every state -- has been confronting factors simply beyond their control.
    And history didn't start with the Cohen administration. It may get tiresome for people to hear this, but the decision to sell off or lease all those school buildings years ago just continues to be a pain in the collective posterior for Newton.
    As a home-owner in town for more than 15 years, and a school parent, I took the view that either way, with or without the override, I/we would be up the proverbial creek. For all the encouragement by the pro-override side to take "the long view," I just did not see anything to convince me that there was a real long-term fiscal plan for the town, nor much of a zeal to put one together; it was pretty much a given that Newton would have to be voting on another override next year, and/or the year after that.

    So no, I'm not celebrating the Triumph of the No -- anymore than I would the Triumph of the Yes.

    Posted by Essteess May 21, 08 03:53 PM
  1. A gym teacher making 100K a year!! This is insanity.

    Posted by Astonished May 21, 08 04:03 PM
  1. Why pay for something that doesn't fix the problem?

    If the problem is health care and pensions, simply make the employees co pay for the insurance and stop giving crazy pension deals. I have to co pay in the private sector, And I can't retire with a bloated pension after 20 years. Why should Town employees?

    And another thing, Why on Earth don't they allow open competition on the North project. Union only and Prevailing wage only adds 20- 25% to contruction costs. In this case it probably cost 40 MILLION dollars to kiss big labors butt. Unions only account for about 8% of private sector jobs. So we pay an extra 40 million to keep 92% of the workforce out of the process- brilliant!

    Maybe because the unions did such a good job on the Big Dig.

    Posted by Bob May 21, 08 04:07 PM
  1. If individuals families must do more with less when times get tough, the same should go for cities and states. The fact is I'm sure every town out there can find places to tighten their belts without the sky falling. Its just easier not to bother looking for real solutions.

    Posted by ll May 21, 08 04:36 PM
  1. The angry comments on the mayor' salary increase and on too high salaries of teachers who allegedly work little and allegedly have free summers just show that some people are misinformed, and do not really know the history of the mayor's salary increases, and have no idea about behind-the-scenes workload of teachers. Obviously, this shows that the city did no do a good job preparing for the vote and giving adequate information to the public. I wish the best of luck to all of us. We will need it.

    Posted by VG May 21, 08 05:13 PM
  1. Newton has Air rights over the Mass. Pike.Use It! Make some Money for the City.

    Posted by tth May 21, 08 05:17 PM
  1. gee - i wonder why the city took down the comptrollers employee earnings report for 2007 (see post 25)? maybe jeff young complained?
    http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/comptrol/fy08_update/2007%20EMPLOYEE%20EARNINGS.pdf

    the 2006 one is just as bad (look quick though as they'll probably pull that too:)
    http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/comptrol/fy07_update/2006%20earnings.pdf

    Posted by EMT May 21, 08 05:32 PM
  1. Mayor Cohen tried to play the fear factor like Professor Harold Hill in the "Music Man". Instead of the threat of a pool hall, it was the problems with an old school. After selling his merchandise to the naive and unsuspecting parents., Professor Hill caught a train out of town.

    Posted by arnold koch May 21, 08 08:52 PM
  1. Salaries & benefits are the #1 line item cost in the budget. We need to focus there first. The defined benefit pension (where retirees receive a certain percentage of their highest salary) should be replaced with a defined contribution plan (where the city contributes a certain percentage of each employee's salary). Private companies made that change years ago, because the cost is unsustainable long-term. We should also look very carefully at every position in the city and determine whether the position is justified or whether the entire function should be outsourced. Recently, the Tab reported on a plan to replace all of our water meters. The cost would be borne by the homeowners, and the three employees who currently read the meters would simply be transferred to other positions in the DPW. That is insane. In the private sector, those positions would be eliminated. The mis-management in this city can not continue. We have to fix it, or we will end up like Vallejo, CA, which recently filed bankruptcy to break the onerous union contracts.

    Posted by JC May 21, 08 11:20 PM
  1. What's really awful about this is that because of this override not passing, north gets redone yet the rest of the schools have to suffer. south is eliminating almost 1/3 of the shows in its once amazing theatre department, yet north is barely eliminating any and becomes a gorgeous palace. is this fair? NO, it's not. what's also astonishing is that when voting against this override, newton residents didn't even bother to realize that no matter what, newton north would still be rebuilt, yet if they voted "no" other schools would have to sacrifice their good programs and teachers in order to pay for this. and so, instead of caring about the hard work teachers do to educate the community and keep children from becoming uneducated, selfish, close-minded idiots who will not go a decent college, therefore get a lousy job, and then vote against quality education so that their children grow up to have a similar inadequate lifestyle and state of mind, the people of newton decided to stop caring about schools having equal opportunities in order to save money on taxes. you think you'd've had less money if the override passed? think about how much your salary will be reduced because of it not passing, or whether or not you'll STILL HAVE YOUR JOB NEXT YEAR. it's absolutely not okay that the students on the other half of newton, the ones that will go to newton south, have to suffer and sacrifice their programs in order for newton north to become extremely fancy yet have north not sacrifice nearly as much of its budget when it makes sense that they should have to sacrifice MORE in the first place because it's for THEIR SCHOOL that's causing the problem! south is one of the top schools in the country, well, see how long that lasts now that you morons let north take over. newton REALLY SCREWED UP THIS ONE. we really NEEDED THAT OVERRIDE!

    Posted by CG May 26, 08 07:26 PM
  1. OVER-PAID TEACHERS........
    Teachers are OVERPAID AS IT IS! They average MORE than a COLLEGE PROFESSOR makes! They are off every holiday, and 3-4 months out for summer, then sick time, vacation...
    PER HOUR CAPITA, TEACHERS MAKE MORE THAN MOST OTHER FIELDS! IF THEY DONT MAKE ENOUGH FOR THEIR "CUSHY" JOB, GET A SECOND ONE LIKE MOST AMERICANS. Only difference is, the teachers with their job and second job, with still work LESS HOURS THAN THE REST OF US!
    Thanks, have a blessed day!

    Posted by Scotty McMasters July 15, 08 07:56 PM
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