Freedom of Speech in Gloucester
|Freedom of Speech by Norman Rockwell
An open letter from Gloucester Citizen Kathryn Goodick, with a response from Enduring Gloucester Board Member James Tarantino:
To the Citizens of Gloucester:
Following the “sticker shock” we received with the most recent real estate taxes, many residents came to the Jan 24City Council meeting, during which we had requested to speak about the $2.6 million shift in debt services to the residents. Mayor Theken’s team opened the meeting with a presentation from CFO Jim Destino and Nancy P who provided a 44 minute presentation that even Stephen Hawking couldn’t follow. The presentation focused on how real estate properties are assessed, how real estate tax bills have two estimate and two actual tax bills, and some examples of the effects on homeowners which was nice information to hear but had nothing to do with the shift in debt services.
When it was our turn to speak, we were told we had the same 44 minutes to speak and Amanda Kesterson began the speeches for the public. However, Mr. McGeary stopped Amanda after less than 2 minutes into her speech to challenge her and all of us on what we could and couldn’t speak of. It was offensive to have the President of the City Council arguing with a resident who was being respectful and had a well written speech to present. Then a 10 minute debate among the city councilors ensued so he could bully the other councilors to censure what we, the public, could discuss – which ultimately was taken to a vote! Wasn’t this the purpose of holding a separate public hearing so that the public that was blindsided by outrageous property tax invoices to speak about our concerns? The behavior of Mr. McGeary was extremely unprofessional and should not be allowed for someone in his elected position. What is further appalling is that the restrictions he tried to handcuff the public with, were not the same guidelines that Mayor Theken’s team was held to. In the end, the council voted against McGeary and Lundberg and allowed the public to speak.
Mr. McGeary needs to understand that he works for us, he was voted in by the residents to serve us and work for us. His unprofessional bullying of Amanda Orlando Kesterson was a disgusting display on the part of an elected official and should not be allowed. I certainly hope that the general public will remember this come the November elections and vote this out of touch pompous man out of office!!
The presentation did NOT answer the real questions that still should be answered to explain to the residents the breakdown of the $2.5 million shift in debt – what does this expense break down to, why did the council vote for the most expensive plan proposed and shoved it down the throats of the residents, why wasn’t the cost spread out to a more reasonable length of time rather than just two quarters which would not have been as disruptive to the financial budgets of so many residents. As our group has discovered, the bigger picture is that the city budgets are out of control and have ballooned to an astronomical amount that needs to be reined in.
Although Mr. Ciolino and Mr. Verga voted to stop the insanity of the bully by allowing us to speak, the meeting was a futile demonstration of the lack of democracy plaguing this city. We were not allowed to have a meaningful dialogue of any kind with the council. We all worked very hard to produce the information, prepared our speeches and tried to work with the city council to no avail. What are the next steps? Nothing was told to us, and I for one was left with the feeling that they were hoping that we would just walk away and never to be seen again despite his comments to come to more meetings including budget meetings (although we were told we couldn’t speak at!!).
The ranting of Paul McGeary highlight his “true colors”, that he has no regards for the constituents who voted him into office, and he appears to believe that he has the power of Captain Marvel as he pontificated to the residents who remained until the 11 p.m.conclusion of the public hearing. He indicated that he was happy with the vote to shift the debt to the residents, compared the increase amount to that of a cable bill, and more shocking, he was “gleeful” in stating that he plans on voting again to shift another $2.5 million to the tax payers in the FY2016 budget . Again, his conclusion speech to us was very immature, condescending and left me feeling like Kevin Bacon from the movie Animal House….”Thank you sir, may I have another”.
So I am forewarning Gloucester residents, please line up, bend over, and get ready for the City Council and Paul McGeary to slap you with another outrageous “debt shift” and remember to recite “Thank you sir, may I have another (property tax increase!)”.
We are not going away but we sure hope that he does!
From James Tarantino:
She describes, to a t, the exact way so many of us felt before WE were bullied out of City Hall with the feeling, “Why waste our time ?” Mission accomplished. It now strikes me that is the obvious intent of these well-planned, social engineered “Public meetings”:
1.) Start with a long, confusing speech that will confuse and exhaust citizens. Some may leave disgusted. Some may leave because they have to work in the morning. Those who endure will be in the proper state to accept the next treatment.
2.) Bully and belittle anyone who opposes what you are forcing on them. This will not only intimidate the speaker but sends a loud, clear message to others: You will be punished for expressing your concerns. You will be made to look foolish and your concerns will NOT be addressed….next?
3.) Anyone who endures all this abuse must be addressed before they leave, “Make no mistake, this City Administration is not interested in the concerns or well-being of its citizens. There is a gentrification in process and nothing you do or say is going to change that. Their message to us (their constituents.) is: “You can’t afford to live here? MOVE!”