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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Override for our city

The voters flocked to the polls today, but unfortunately the override did not pass, which means that we'll see cuts in services like police, fire, and especially the schools. To say I'm not extremely disappointed in the city would be lying, because I am.

I understand that many people who voted against the override were voting against the Mayor, but the point was really moot since the Mayor has pledged not to run again. However, the mistrust of our Mayor is so high that people were afraid to allow him near another 12 million dollars he could easily mismanage.

One of our key messages throughout the campaign was that our city – like cities and towns across the Commonwealth – faces a structural deficit due to the chronic mismatch between revenues and expenses. Revenues are capped by Prop 2 ½ and declining, inflation-adjusted state aide. Budget-buster expenses, such as health insurance, energy, and pension costs, are growing at a much faster rate. The structural deficit is not a discreet number or a problem that can be solved in one fell swoop. Rather, it is a long-term fiscal dynamic that will need to be addressed on many fronts on an ongoing basis, if we are to sustain the excellent schools and city services that make our city such a great place to live.

I just don't know how our city is going to function with the resulting cuts in services. More teachers will be laid off, more programs will disappear, special education will be further decimated, we're going to lose fire and police personnel, our roads are going to remain pockmarked with potholes that will never be filled, our bridges will rot, our school buildings will continue to fester and leak with overcrowding being the new word of the day. We're in a lot of trouble here, and regardless of our feelings towards the Mayor, this override vote is nothing to be proud of.

The final numbers tell the story: 24,538 people voted. 13,424 voted no; 11,114 voted yes. That’s a 55% - 45$ spread. Voter turnout was 47%, compared to 53% in 2002. When I voted around 3:30 pm, my precinct was packed like I've never seen it before. People were waiting online to deposit their ballots into the ballot machine. For a special election with only one question on the ballot, the turnout was less than I thought it would be. I can't believe that more than 50% of the voters didn't even bother to make their voices heard. All I can say to the people who didn't vote is, don't complain when your kids are in classrooms with 27 other kids and aren't getting the SpEd services they're entitled to. It's YOUR fault for not voting.

Me? I'm thinking of moving closer to a fire station. We're about as far from a station as you can get in our city, and with the cuts that will be taking place, I'm not really sure we're even safe anymore.

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